There's no hint of Christmas decor up here yet. This photo is from last year. But that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about the season. I've cleared away the autumn decor. The house is spare and clean, waiting. Tomorrow I'll continue with some cleaning, then prepare the candles for Advent.
Today is Black Friday. I watched some snippets of the hullaboo in the country to the south of us. And I heard about situations, not quite as dramatic, here in Canada, where Black Friday fever seems to have swept over the retailers. And what's it all about? Getting stuff for cheap. Saving money. Trampling over people (literally) to get stuff that's going to be out of style, broken and useless in a few years.
I'm all for saving money and not spending what I don't have to. But as society searches for the cheapest gifts that money can buy, I think about gifts that might cost a whole lot more. Not gifts that I can wrap up and place under the tree, but gifts that will carry meaning long after the tree drops all its needles, the candles burn out, and the batteries run dead.
I'm thinking about gifts that will cost me something intangible, but utterly important. Like forgiveness. It's hard to make the first move when I feel misunderstood or treated badly. My pride gets in the way. It costs me dearly to step into the breach and say, "In the grand scheme of life, does this quarrel matter? Let's make up. I forgive you. Will you forgive me?" I know of too many siblings who won't speak to each other, too many children estranged from their parents. However valid the differences of opinion, I still find it sad.
Or the gift of acceptance. Believe that people have goodness, that people do not want to harm you. Believe in their sincerity. Oh, I know that there are those who will betray that belief and who, perhaps, cannot be trusted. But believe that there is a core within that will respond to love and acceptance. That belief will be a gift to you as much as to the other.
Or the gift of time. Letting a frazzled young mom get ahead of you in the line up. Chatting with that older neighbour who goes on and on while you want to get on with your own tasks. Getting together for tea with a friend you haven't seen in awhile. Time with family, with friends. Time with your spouse. Time with yourself to think.
These gifts will not deplete my bank account or run up my charge card. They will cost me mental effort, emotional output, and time. But in giving forgiveness, acceptance, and time, I believe that my Christmas will be made richer. Not everyone will respond in like manner, but I will have done well. I will have gifted others and gifted myself at the same time.