Feeling the Crunch...And I Don't Mean Snow

I wish I could hear the crunch of snow beneath my winter boots. I think it might put me in more of a Christmas spirit.

I've always loved the holidays and have never understood people who dread them. I would teasingly refer to them Scrooge or Grinch. This year I'm trying very hard not to put myself in that category. In looking back of 2009, it's easy to see why I might not be so elated with greeting what is supposed to be a joyous time of year. It's been a difficult year. I won't go into detail because I've dealt with a lot of the same issues most everyone else has at one time or another: divorce, sickness, death, unemployment. It all tends to suck the life out of a person, even someone like me who has rightfully earned the reputation of the optimistic, care-free, look-on-the-bright-side Pollyanna.

I've stayed away from malls and stores this Christmas. I don't have the money that I've had in previous shopping seasons. I thought it would be too depressing to be in a mall when I can't buy anything. But the other day I had to go to a certain store for a non-Christmas related purchase. You know what? I should have gone sooner. The beat of the cheerful Christmas tunes restarted a holiday rhythm in my soul. The glitter and twinkle of bells and balls made me smile. The wonder in the eyes of children searching for Santa warmed my heart.

Later that day I stopped by the grocery store. In the parking lot was a rusted out truck with a cardboard sign taped to it. It read: "Homeless vet needs work of any kind. Job in California. Just need the gas to get there." I considered that message with more compassion than I used to. I was embarrassed at what my inner reaction would have been just one year ago. But with the lesson the last year has taught me, I understood better. How many of my friends were not too far away from being in a similar situation? It's been a hard year for a lot of us.

I was asked this week what was the best Christmas gift I ever received. I thought of my favorite book on my shelf. It's a leather bound notebook filled with my father's handwritten stories and poems. A few years ago he gave identical books to my two sisters and me. He must have worked on these gifts for months. It cost him nothing but time and maybe a few bucks for the notebooks. But it truly is the best gift. He gave me a part of himself.

So how does this all tie together? Because as writers, you know we have to tie it all together, right? I think when I'm 90, I will look back on this Christmas as one of the most memorable. Not for what wasn't under the tree or stuffed in a stocking, but for what filled my home and heart. I've been given a most amazing gift. The wonderful part is that it is something I can give away, too. The gift is one of an ever-expanding heart. The hurts of this past year have increased my capacity for understanding, compassion, and love. Without the losses, I couldn't have gained so much. It's priceless.

And I have another gift, as well. It's the gift of words. Like my father gave to me, I can give a piece of myself to others. Because even though the past year has had it's hardships, there has been support and love, too. Won't those friends and family members smile when they see their gift from me: A long letter to my 90 year old grandma filled with all the stuff I meant to write all year long but didn't make the time. A thank you to my parents for their unwavering support and abundant love. A fun poem to my best friend who finalized a divorce this year, too and helped me find something laugh at almost every day. A list of really useful advice (like how to catch an escaped hamster) to my corporate-ladder sister who lives in a world SO different from mine but asks for my opinion all the time anyway. And I'm-Proud-of-You-Because letters to my children because I really am so proud of them. It will cost me nothing but time and few bucks for paper. I'm guessing these gifts will be remembered long after the others have been forgotten.

Remember your true gifts this Christmas and share them. I promise, it will put you in the Christmas spirit.

Merry Christmas,

Deborah Macias


Reese Mobley said...

Thanks for guest blogging, Deborah. I treasure the gift of your friendship more than you'll ever know. Looking forward to the BonJovi concert. WE ROCK!!

jel said...

hope ya have a blessed CHRISTmas!

Starla Kaye said...

Thanks for blogging with us. Yes, this has been a difficult year for most of us, in one way or another. With the current economic situation it is hard to get in the same joyous holiday mood as in some past years.

I like the idea of thinking back about some of the most prized gifts we have received over the years at Christmas. I have many and for various reasons.

For our first Christmas my husband and his brother went together and bought me a rabbit fur coat. It was nice and soft, but I wasn't really into killing animals for a coat. But they were so very proud of getting it for me, and that was the best part of the gift.

A few years later my husband got me a robe: bright blue with a red plaid collar and belt, full-length, and sooooo hot to wear. It was truly awful. But, again, he was so proud of his gift and that was what counted.

I do have to say that, Thank God, he stopped buying me articles of clothing and went to jewelry. Now he just gives me gift cards. But, actually, while the gift cards are nice and I can get what I want, I miss getting something he took the time to pick out.

I hope each of us thinks back on our favorite gifts and why they meant what they did.

Penny Rader said...

I'm so glad you blogged, Deborah! I've missed seeing you. Your post is beautiful and touching...and just speaks to me on so many levels.

I imagine you'll be feeling the crunch of snow in the day or so and I hope you glory in it. And I totally get the shopping thing. My Christmas spirit was lagging a bit a couple weeks ago. I heard a Christmas song and felt a little lift of my heart. Since then I've tried to listen to at least a few Christmas songs every day to give that lift a boost. :D

What a treasure you have in your Dad's gift. I imagine your family will be just as touched by your letters. That's the cool thing about real letters...you can hold them and read them over and over and feel like the writer is right there with you.

I hope you have a blessed, joyous Christmas, Deborah, and a truly spectacular new year. And I hope we get to see much, much more of you. :D

Penny Rader said...

P.S. I'm sooooo jealous you and Reese are going to see Bon Jovi. I hope you guys have a blast!