This post is a Hallmark sponsored post. I am being paid by Hallmark to write it, but all writing, ideas and opinions are mine. Thankfully, Hallmark and I share the same idea–that little moments are to be celebrated and that good people, good efforts and good intentions deserve a spotlight. See Hallmark Life is a Special Occasion for more details, like them on Facebook, and/or sign up for their e-mail messages HERE.
I have this great big flaw called Overthinking. I am an expert at taking simple concepts and turning them into a confusing heap of Too Much. I’ve made many mistakes in life, exhausting efforts to build elaborate bridges to get over troubled waters when really, all that was necessary was a simple raft. My wise friend Kleidy says there’s no such thing as mistakes or failure though—it’s all just learning. This concept has been a gift—a deeper acceptance of who I am and the infinite journey toward who I want to be (which, for the record, is Who I am + Time).
I’ve been over thinking a lot of things lately, the Flaw (kind of like the Evil Claw) fed by a number of circumstances that include the following confusing heap of Too Much: making sense of people’s suffering, feeling guilty for our current non-suffering, holiday sentiment, teaching my kids gratitude, teaching my kids meaningful giving, etc. I seem to jumble up these feelings this time of year because the holidays bring it out of me. Dear friends of mine suffered a horrible family tragedy over Thanksgiving, and I can’t make sense of it. Crafting and baking and swinging on my holiday high chandelier doesn’t seem right. And I thought I didn’t know how to help. Brett and I have also been talking about what we want to do this holiday to teach our kids giving back, and we discussed adopting a family, donating toys, taking the kids to pick things out for another child, etc.—all good and meaningful things that need to be done, but still…does Lainey really get it?
In defending my writer’s block in expressing this all and explaining to my dad last night what I wanted to write, I mumbled a stream of feelings that equated to ‘Ya Totally Just Lost Me. Kindly, my dad suggested, “Okay, how about you start backwards and write one sentence.” Natalie Goldberg instructs writers to stop in the middle of typing and write simply “What I really want to say is…” I like to think of this as deconstructing that needless elaborate bridge and hopping on that simple raft.
What I really want to say is…the best and most important gift you can give anyone this holiday and any time of year—a hurting friend, your children, your spouse, the needy, the suffering, your best friend, your mom, your coworkers, and the world around you—is what you have to give. Simple as that. Taking my kids to the toy store to pick out something for a needy child is a meaningful experience, but what’s more meaningful is teaching them every single day to give of themselves—to use their talents and their words and their smile and their enthusiasm and their blessings to bring good to someone else. Shine your little flashlight, girls. Shine it bright.
I ask myself so often, “Are we doing it right? Do our kids really know how good they have it? Do they understand others’ suffering? Will they genuinely want to help and give?” The other night, as we prepared to visit our hurting friends who lost someone dear to them, I listened as Lainey told me how she wanted to help. I smiled when she suggested that we bring hot cocoa for her friends and serve it with one extra cup so we could “pretend their cousin is still with them and she’ll always be there.” That night, as we all huddled together—the hurting and the hurting help—the simplicity of all of this made sense. We all at some point will play the role of both the hurting and the help. We all both receive the gift of kindness and bestow it. And perhaps I don’t need to overanalyze the concept of giving for my children. It’s a simple concept, a solid raft: If we live it, they will learn it. Share your gifts, share your heart.
This holiday, as you search for ways to help, as you hear of others’ suffering, as you find opportunities to teach your children about gratitude and giving and as you craft and bake and enjoy the things with which you’ve been blessed along the way, know that the simple and most important gift you can give is yourself. Make someone laugh, send a thoughtful text, listen to someone who needs to talk, smile in the grocery store, say thank you, make cocoa for a hurting friend, offer your talents and teach your kids to shine their little flashlights. That simple raft will travel far.
This time of year, how do you embrace the concept of giving? How do you teach it to your children? Do you have a story of something someone did for you that made a meaningful impact? Hallmark and I would love to hear your response.
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