Sunday, December 04, 2005

What is the magic of Christmas?

This is the third atricle of mine that Alamance Magazine has published. I've told all of you each time they've accepted one of my submissions, and as promised, once the magazine hits the street, I also post it here

I remember Christmas as a child as a time of the year when dreams came true. I’d be on my best behavior, in hopes that Santa would bring me that special toy I’d been dreaming of, hoping for. More often than not, he did!

I have fond memories of spending hours looking through the “Toy catalog” my parents had every year, picking out that one ‘perfect’ new toy from its pages, carefully crafting a letter to Santa, with hopes, hopes only a child can have, of seeing it under the tree on Christmas morning.

Later in my teen years Christmas lost a lot of its shine for me. I worked in a retail store, and frankly, by Christmas I was tired. I was tired of restocking shelves with toys, gift wrap, and decorations and of increasingly irritable customers. Most years, by the time Christmas finally arrived, I was simply happy to have the day off.

That lost holiday spirit stayed with me for many years, I’d almost dread the arrival of the holidays, the rush, the crowds, I tried, but I just couldn’t seem to get the ‘spirit’ of the holiday back.

These days, I actually look forward to the holidays and I want to tell you why.

I’ve actually found the joy, the magic, in giving, giving, without knowing who the actual recipient is, just the simple act of giving something, to someone else.

You see I feel fortunate. I may not have a lot of money, or the biggest house on the block, but I feel that my life is rich in many ways, and at Christmas I’ve found a real joy in doing something, anything, to maybe make someone else’s life, just a little better.

I used to think, that I didn’t have enough money, to actually make a difference. The truth is, it doesn’t take money, all it takes a desire to do something for someone else, just because you can.

So, each year now, during the holidays, my wife and I find ways to share what we have with others. We’ll pick up an extra gift while shopping and drop it off at the Salvation Army, drop some money in their kettle each time we see one.

Some years we adopt a Christmas Cheer family, a family from the Salvation Army “Angel Tree” (or two), and shop for them, knowing that on Christmas morning some little kid will be wide eyed and happy Santa remembered them this year. While I’ve never met a parent in any of these families, I know in my heart that their faith in others has to be restored, just a little, as they watch those kids open presents.

In years where money has been tight, and work wasn’t easy to find, I’ve volunteered my time at various shelters, soup kitchens and rescue missions. If you want to feel really fortunate in life, you only have to spend a little time with those who are truly having problems to realize you don’t have any at all.

There’s something universal in the human experience of helping another person. It leaves us with a sense of accomplishment, a sense of the frailty of life and good times, and of how we all, really are interconnected.

This year, more than ever, our local charities are going to need your help. Their funds have been drawn down by the series of natural disasters we’ve experienced and the immediate job of helping all of those affected by them.

I fear that the amount of money left over to brighten children’s eyes this year, may be far too small to meet the need.

The magic in Christmas really is in the giving, it’s the reason parents delight in watching their children open their presents, and why they wish the kids could believe in Santa just one more year. When those children believe Santa brought them their presents, parents know the joy of giving, without the recipient knowing who really gave to them.

So, if Christmas has felt less than magical for you in the past, or if you already know the magic of giving, take a couple of seconds this year, do something, for someone you may never see, and feel the joy of giving like you may never have felt it before.

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Nina said...

That is great Bill! Another article published. Congrats!
I so agree with what you have said about giving. That to me is what the Holiday is all about. Even when the kids were small and I was a single parent, the kids loved picking a name off the tree and buying a present for another child who had less than they did. So even children love giving, they understand it when they taught.

seeingdouble said...

Thanks for the reminder to do some good, this was a refreshing post to read.

Bill said...

Nanina - Thanks, it's been fun, I just wish I could fins a way to write and get paid... then again, maybe it wouldn't be as much fun.

I think you're right, everyone enjoys giving, or can, once you feel it... there's no turning back.

SeeingDouble - You're welcome, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

jenbeauty said...

Awesome Bill!!

Firehawk said...


Just got caught up on your recent posts, man. Congrats on getting another article published. You're on a roll.

It's sometimes hard to capture that Holiday Spirit after it's faded. For me, I've had a lot of bad times all centered on Christmas, and I don't think I'll ever be as much of a "holiday person" as I once was. That, and having the season start before Halloween wears you out.

You hit on some important issues in that article. It's easy to feel fortunate when you realize that others have so little, and, in the scheme of things, you have so much. Anymore, I'm mainly about having a nice time with the people I like the best and appreciating the fact that I have the pleasure of their company for another year.

Good stuff, bro.

Spirit Of Owl said...

You know, that's wonderful stuff Bill. This might sound strange to say, but it's almost secondary that you've had it published. Let me try to explain what I mean! Of course it's great that people get to read it and find your message, but it's almost above congratulations in a "hey, you got it published" sense, because it's in many ways above that. I'm not sure I can explain it. Well. Great stuff, thanks Bill.

Chloe said...

I'm so glad there are still people like you and your wife left in this world, Bill!

Bill said...

Jen - Thank you.

Firehawk - Well, I don't know about rolling, but I am moving, now if I could just get paid enough!! :) Naaa.. I'd write anyway.

People are the most important thing to me at Christmas, getting together, catching up, and like you, being thankful we all had one more year.

Spirit - Believe it or not.. I completely understand! I agree, it is bigger than being published... I count myself lucky that I feel the way I do, I wasn't always this way.

Chloe - Most of the credit really goes to Maryan, she made me believe in Christmas again. Last year, I was unemployed the money was running out, and she still wanted us to 'adopt' an Angel tree' family, and we did.

Amazingly enough, the week after we agreed to do that, I got the call for the project I'm still working on!

Life itself, is incredibly strange.

Jada's Gigi said...

Giving is incredibly fulfilling! It is the spirit of the season and what makes the holidays so joyful.

Bill said...

Gigi - Thanks, I love knowing there are others who 'get it' too!