During this time of year it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. The last minute trips to the mall, fighting your way through the crowds to get that last minute perfect gift. Making sure the house is clean and decorated for planned guests and unexpected visitors alike. The list seems endless.
Sometimes the stress of the holidays can cause us to forget what this season is really all about. The holidays are about reconnecting with family and showing the ones we love how much we really do care. This is the season for giving thanks for what we have: our families, our health and our successes. It’s a time to reflect on the year gone by and look to the New Year for a fresh start, excited about all of the possibilities that lie ahead.
I admit though, I do sometimes find myself looking forward to the mid-January lull, but certain traditions reignite my holiday spirit, one in particular. Every year for the past five years our organization has hosted a Christmas party for children from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Approximately 30 kids visit our corporate office (two of our regional offices hold similar events) and join our 80+ volunteers for an afternoon of cookie decorating, Santa visiting and craft making. They enjoy a delicious dinner and entertainment provided by a local high school choir. The day is capped off with each child being presented with a pile of gifts (purchased via donations made by our employees). [Click here to view photos of this year’s event.]
Each year those kids end up giving me so much more than we give them. Seeing the wonder in their eyes does for the soul what a cup of hot chocolate does for the body…it warms you right up. Christmas is about the wonder of Santa, the excitement of unwrapping that one special gift you were hoping beyond all hope would be under the Christmas tree. For many children in our community, such a simple thing is not their reality right now. I’ve watched as children have saved their gifts to share with their siblings on Christmas day, because they know Santa won’t be visiting their house this year. I’ve seen parents brought to tears by a basket of food with all of the trimmings for a traditional holiday meal. All I can say is that I go home each and every year after this event so thankful to have a warm place to sleep, food on the table and family to rely on.
Please make a point to not only give thanks for all you have this holiday season but to share with those in need. Many non-profit organizations are struggling during this tough economy, but even if you do not have the means to donate money, know that your time is just as cherished (not only during the holidays but all year long). I promise you, the gift of giving is the best gift of all.