On Giving

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 Christmas Parade

Christmas Parade

 Candles

Candles

 Bokeh

Bokeh

Please welcome, once again, my dear friend Sheila with some thoughts on giving and the season.

It seems like no matter how much I try to sleep these days, the sun wants to sleep more. In the morning when I set the kettle to boil and try to wake up the house, it feels like I’m on a some secret mid-night mission. And when I bring the dinner plates to the table each evening, I feel like we’re somehow running behind. The day is so short. The dark, so long.

No matter the meaning we each bring to this holiday season, this is the primal, unspoken truth--we celebrate in December to bring light to the darkest part of the year.

And what I have found as I’ve grown and aged and maybe gotten a little wiser, is that the merry making, the holiday-ing, the sparkle and shine, the giving--I’ve found that all of this can and should be a time of tending to the ever-burning flame of Light inside of us. To bringing forth, brighter than ever, all the Good in our own hearts.

In the past, as I envision it, our lives were more tightly tied to the seasons. I imagine this month as one filled with Time. Time to be in the home more, time to just be together. I know on our own little farm, December is the quietest month of all. A short break between the bustle of summer labor and autumn harvest and all the planning and beginning that start right back up in January. A slow month.

This is what I think we all long for, even more than for Christmas morning--the month of Christmas. As soon as Thanksgiving ends, I know I am hit with the deepest desire to end all classes, to stay home instead of driving all over, to just be. If only this were possible...

And since it is not, the gift we need to give to ourselves during what turns into a rushed and busy season instead, is the gift of taking. Taking time, amidst the beating drum of the modern day. Time, amidst the chaos, to find the stillness inside us that this quiet and black earth are calling for.

Holding space for this stillness, we can fill our own light-hearts with that same deep peace the earth is showing us. We can focus on finding our own sturdy and strong centers, fortifying our foundations against what is a sometimes tumultuous ride. From this warm and fuzzy and well tended flame inside, we are able to really give, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year.

Because the beauty of Christmastime is not in the gifts themselves, but in the amount of love they are filled with. Can we give enough to ourselves and each other this season to refuel us for another year around the sun? Can we cultivate our flames under the cover of winter so that they can burn brightly through another cycle of ups and downs and throughs and arounds?

The shared meals, the extra sweetness, the thoughtful expressions of love, they mean more than anything, they give much more than the sum or their parts. Out on the streets and in the home, we can use this time to slow down and shed our light on all those dusty corners. With every smile, we can send out beams of light into any worn or heavy hearts. When focused, we have the power to shine as brightly as that sleepy winter sun, to keep things warm and light and alive and growing. That’s what all this celebrating is for, after all.

The world has its cold and dark places; believe it or not, it needs your help to keep the home fires burning. So make your heart light, spread your cheer and goodwill. And don’t forget to let others shine theirs on you. Let’s all make as much merry as we can to remind each other that the light is always on, the doors always open. That fire can not burn us if we are already ablaze.

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Sheila Jaillet is mostly a heart on a sleeve, loving up this life and the world around her with a whole brood of small people she adores and a great husband on a little piece of paradise that they farm in the Pacific Northwest in a small--but big--way as their act of bettering the world. But beyond the peachy-keen, she is a quiet thinker, keen observer, and eternal optimist whose thoughts need a place to go and usually end up written since the quiet part is, in her late thirties, sticking. She loves babies, dirt under her fingernails and on the knees of her jeans, heirloom seeds, moving water, reading as if the world around her has stopped, songs with a little croon to them, and words well written. You can read all of her wild ramblings at her blog, Growing Wild Farm, or Rebelle Society.

This story first appeared at Growing Wild Farm, and is reprinted here with permission.

StoriesAngela2012, 2012-12