Sharing hope in the holidays

As my children are faithfully eating their chocolate from their advent calendars every morning and fighting over who gets to change the numbers on the "countdown to Christmas"  sign... I am reminded daily that we only have "xyz" days left!!  4 days to be exact.  And while, some of us are still finishing our shopping and need to start the long process of wrapping each gift, there's another group of much more organized folks who are sitting back with a hot cocoa and red wine and relaxing because they have been done for days...even weeks.  For this second group, I don't even know what to say....  for the rest of us, thankfully there is rush shipping and early mall hours.  

During the holiday season, I have looked at my calendar and felt the extreme busy-ness  -family get togethers, school events, work events and even a few parties. It feels like a lot.  I am not sure why we try and cram everything into two or three weeks?!?! Especially, when I honestly just want to sit on my couch and watch the twinkly Christmas lights curled up under a blanket. But I am grateful for my health this year.  To have the energy to get up and go to all the things with my friends and family. I can close my eyes and in an instant be back to the holiday season when my calendar was filled with chemo, surgery, and doctors appointments.  The celebrations were muted and the day to day was excruciatingly hard.

Just last year, I watched my mom going through her rounds of chemo and surgeries, she was exhausted.  Getting out of her chair was tiring. She couldn't do the entertaining she was used to doing.  It's hard when your world is shaken and you can no longer physically do what you did just a few months before.  She learned to let go of the things she normally was "expected to do" and enjoy the simple-ness of the reason we celebrate this time of year. It's through tragedy and challenges that you learn the simplest gift you can give is being present.  It's not about the hustle and bustle and the packages under the tree. The greatest gift you can give is yourself.  

Most of you are here as a friend of the person in need of a hug and hope as the year ends.  Reach out to her.  Pick her up and go and get the sinful holiday coffee - you know the one with 1000 calories and sugar but tastes like a liquid peppermint patty. Delish.  

"Be inclusive. It's always better to include everyone than to be exclusive."  Sage words of wisdom spoken over me my whole life by my mom.  It was annoying in high school.  I didn't want to hang out with "her/them"  But as an adult, I think my mom was on to something. 

The greatest gift this next week would be to open your home to your friend or family member that needs to see the goodness in life again. Giving them the opportunity to gather in good company and sit at your table with your family.  You know they would love to hear the crazy cousin stories, watch your husband cut the turkey, have children climbing up on their laps and poke at their noses and ears. Sitting next to them, toasting to the end of 2016 and a much better 2017.  Tasting a delicious pie and a glass of Cabernet. Experiencing warmth, connection, and comfort with people who love them (or may have never met them but hug them none the less.)

Our table always includes family, friends, and great conversation.

This is what it means to spread hope and joy during the holidays.

And don't worry, there will always be enough food and space for those who are willing to open their homes.

Who could you invite to gather at your table this year?  


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