Old Teen Essays
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| Article Specs|
Article ID: 4977
Age Group: Adult
Posted: December 22nd. 2002
Gifts That Keep On Giving...
I wrote up a holiday gift list again this year. I began the list in August when the onslaught of catalogs began to fill up my mailbox. Come early October, their pages were stuffed with little scraps of paper noting names and sizes and ordering deadlines. By late November, I had crossed most of the items out. Last week, I just threw them all into the trash bin. Ruby's medical bills and treatments came to over $1700.00 and that pretty much settled the issue of who would get what. I'll just stick a bow on Ruby's head and send you all a picture. Happy Yule! Other than that, it is going to be a lean, lean holiday this year.
Initially, I felt a little depressed about it. Okay, I felt a lot depressed about it. I almost cried whenever I had to go into a store. Seeing all of those shopping carts filled with toys and clothing and crinkly packages of candy filled me with a frustrated sadness. Don't get me wrong, I actually hate shopping. At least I hate the sort of coerced shopping that one is regularly brainwashed into performing at the turn of any commercial holiday. But still, there is a difference between choosing not to buy into the hype and not being able to buy anything because of physical or financial circumstances that one cannot change or overcome.
I began to think about handmade gifts in the short time remaining before Gift Giving Day. I tried to recall how to make those so-easy-a-child-could-do-it Popsicle stick placemats from Summer Camp 1959. And is it knit one and purl two? I always get those confused. Perhaps I could even try to finally overcome my pastry curse and bake up some cookies? Well, that's going a bit too far even during this season of good will. Trust me, 'good' is not what you would feel after eating anything that comes out of my oven! But what to do? What to do? It was all so bah-humbug depressing to think about -- which I did a lot of while feeding Ruby at 3 o'clock in the morning...and 5 o'clock in the morning and...
But one day, my entire attitude changed. (No, I didn't win the lottery or remember how to make those Popsicle stick placemats.) I can even tell you the exact date that was. It was on December 19th, 2002. That was the day that I posted the update on Ruby's condition. That was the day that we recognized that all of the feedings and work and financial sacrifices would see some happy reward. But --as good as that news was -- that wasn't what really turned me around. It was the replies from YOU that did that. Many people -- many of YOU -- celebrated with us the recovery of one little gray cat that you didn't even know. Many people just plain cared and wrote that they just plain cared. And that changed everything. So I started another holiday gift list. No catalogs required. And here it is.
This Holiday, I wish everyone:
Peace: Not the freedom from all conflict sort of peace, but a peace from all armed conflict. Diversity is a good thing and so are most of the people on all sides of an issue. Where there are those who use aggression to grab what they want for themselves, solutions must be found that do not include simply responding in like kind. We can no longer afford to escalate the level of global violence. These aren't sabers and musket balls that we are playing with anymore. In this day and age, the weapons available to just about any country on this planet are ALL weapons capable of mass destruction. Aggression may be a part of the human nature, but trying to bomb hate and aggression out of our psyche hasn't worked. It just pops up again somewhere else. I wish you then the peace that comes from openly discussing differences, preserving diversity and dedicated to finding unarmed workable solutions wherever possible. Well, that's quite a gift list that you have inspired! Bet you won't find those in any catalog stuffed into your mailbox. I couldn't find any gift certificates for those either. But, of course, I know that I cannot stuff these things into your stockings or place them under your tree. They are bigger than any stocking could hold and larger than any tree could ever cover. They are bigger than me. They are bigger than you. Perhaps they are even bigger than all of the stockings and all of the trees and all of the people on this entire planet put together. These are very, very big things. These are very, very big gifts. These are the gifts that can keep on giving long after the holidays are over. These are the gifts that I believe shall remain long after everything that now exists is over. You see, I believe that these gifts are eternal.
Joy: The wonder of your child taking his/her first steps or seeing the stars for the very first time. The azure blue of the sky. The deep green of the pine forest. The smile of a loved one when you come in the door. The gentle hand of solace offered without words. The warmth of a cat purring on your lap and the sound of gentle rain pinging upon your roof. Arms to hold you. Lips to kiss you. I wish you the abundance of good food upon your table, the shelter and laughter of a happy home, the pride of a good job and the companionship of those who love you.
Compassion: We all screw up and do what that which we shouldn't or do not do that which we should. Compassion is recognizing the other in ourselves and treating him/her as we would like to be treated. With tenderness. With understanding. With worth. With dignity. With honor. Not because of what they can do for us and not because of what we can do for them, but simply because we are more alike than we are different. We all want to be understood. We all want to be loved. We all need one another. We all need a helping hand or a kind word once in a while. I wish you a hand up, a pat on the back or an encouraging word in your time of need.
Love: The love of a companion. The love of a child or of a parent. A love of humanity. A love of the other life forms that share our planet. The love of your Gods if you believe in Them. A love for our little blue, green and white marble of a world. May you find it. May you share it. May it be to you that light which shines 'when all other lights go out'. May it strengthen you. May it comfort you. May it challenge you to become better than you ever thought that you could be. May it always come back to you replenished. May it hold you to its heart all of your days. May it carry you in its arms beyond the veils. May it be with you always. I wish you love.
Freedom: Freedom to believe or not to believe. Freedom to speak. Freedom to gather together. Freedom to create. Freedom to read. Freedom to worship as you please. Freedom to write. Freedom to sing. Freedom to say yes. Freedom to say no. Freedom to say nothing at all. Freedom to explore. Freedom to discover. Freedom to challenge. Freedom to question. Freedom to love and to live with whom you please. Freedom to be who you are and to become who you desire to be. Freedom to grow. Freedom to vote your conscience. Freedom from conformity under pressure or coercion. I wish for you the freedom to choose for yourself.
But simply because they are eternal does not mean that these gifts come automatically dispensed upon one and all. They are eternally available, but like all gifts, they must be given, shared and spread around. A gift needs a giver. A gift needs a recipient. A gift is personal --one to another. A gift can come from a God or a loved one or a stranger. A gift can be large or small, visible or invisible, mortal or immortal.
Peace, joy, compassion, love and freedom are very big gifts. The Universe itself cannot hold them and yet they live within the human heart and spirit. They are bigger than I am alone. They are bigger than you are alone. For this Peace, this Joy, this Compassion, this Love and this Freedom to become the gifts that keep on giving, we will all need to work together.
So even though I wish these things for you, I cannot even begin to guarantee that all who wish and hope and desire these gifts shall receive them this year. I can't promise global peace. I can't order a bucket of compassion or a carton of love or a certificate of freedom big enough to give to the entire world. I can't stop war and aggression. I can't feed everyone who hungers or hold everyone who cries from loneliness. I alone cannot set every captive free. But I do have one small gift that I can offer.
I can let this peace, joy, compassion, love and freedom begin with me.
Happy Holidays, Everyone!
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, December, 23rd., 2002
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