I have this love/hate relationship with Christmas – to be totally honest. I love the vacation time, I love the winter as much as summer, and I love the colorful lights up around town.
But I have this hang up with the “gift” giving part of Christmas. I see it as a consumer holiday – another way for the stores to make a buck, and cheap plastics made in China to be sold, bought, opened, used once, and thrown away.
I also see how people believe they will be happy when they get that new item they had been dreaming of. But the happiness is fleeting and lasts a minute, an hour, a day, maybe a week at the most, and the happiness is gone.
Do I sound like Scrooge right now? I do. But I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.
With all that being said, there is a gift in Christmas – it’s an opportunity to give – from the heart – whether it’s a material item or an act of kindness.
In the Buddhist tradition, the first teaching is on generosity. Why? Because it’s so powerful in how we see the world, and in opening our hearts and minds to connecting beyond what we believe is “me.”
The Buddha taught that to give with expectation of anything in return is not truly giving – even expecting a thank you. Why? Because when we expect or want a thank you, our ego gets involved. “Well, I gave them this meal, they should at least say thanks.”
Believing you deserve anything in return for giving feeds right into your ego or attachment to “me and mine” – and why does that matter? Cause you suffer when you believe in “me and mine.” You lose perspective of your connection with everything around you.
When I can look past the consumer part of the holiday, it’s a great opportunity to practice giving – in whatever way that is – from my heart, and do it with no expectations of anything in return. Even a thank you. You can practice this too.
It’s also a great time to look at why you may find Christmas stressful and joyful at the same time. Perhaps you believe you have to have the house nice, the dinner cooked perfectly, the gifts bought and wrapped by a certain day, the lights up and running perfectly, and entertain – perfectly.
Know that you are perfect the way you are without doing all of that.
Take care of yourself during this time.
Give without expectation.
Receive with an open heart.
Open yourself to your family and friends just the way they are today and every day – over and over again.
This Christmas I’m practicing the art of giving, receiving, and imperfection. For myself and the people that care about me. One request though – can you use recycled paper or wrapping for the gifts?
Have a wonderful, gift giving and receiving Christmas!
Categories: Inner Wisdom & Intuition