Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Has true Christmas spirit been forgotten?

With the holidays rapidly approaching, it is always a time of year I take to reflect on the many blessings in my life and how grateful I am for each and every one of them. This year, I've had many new developments. In addition to my wonderful family and the home life I have, my job that keeps food on the table, and all the small blessings I won't list here, I had so many major changes this year. I published my first book, I made friends with a lot of great authors I wouldn't have come into contact with otherwise, met a few readers who have reached out and talked to me, and I found a passion for writing that is unlike anything I've ever experienced before. I'm generally a glass-half-full kind of person, but for the last few years, I've struggled with depression issues for various reasons. Writing has brought back to my life the kind of joy I remember feeling as a teenager. I've had some hard blows this year as well, especially with the rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, but overall, I've been the recipient of more blessings than bad I so often am. 

I'm very proud of my children, who have always seemed to grasp the fact that life isn't about having more than the next guy or keeping up with the Joneses. Our Christmas celebrations have been fairly small the last several years, as times are tough for everyone. My kids get a few things they really need and perhaps one gift they want. Most years we could spend more on them, but they like to adopt Christmas Angels off the trees from the stores and spend our Christmas money on children who wouldn't likely get anything otherwise. 

My daughter, Samantha (who is a senior in high school this year), heard on the radio last week that the cut off date was December 7th to turn gifts in for the angels. There was no way I could adopt one, as my shopping money for Christmas will come in right before Christmas itself (looks like another year of shopping on Christmas Eve for me--not an infrequent occurrence). When I told her we couldn't do it she shrugged and told me she was going to go drive around and maybe find herself a new pair of pants (that girl is always out shopping for a new pair of pants and NEVER comes home with one ;-).

What she came home with was an angel ticket for a ten-year-old girl who needs clothes and shoes, and really wants a bicycle. Samantha had an awesome bicycle, three shirts, a pair of pants, and new shoes in her car so she could return them to the drop off place the following day. 

When Samantha went to school the next day, her friends were all talking about the gifts they were going to buy for each other and what they wanted from each other. Samantha told them she was really sorry, but she just spent most of her Christmas money on a little girl and they wouldn't be getting very big presents from her this year. When they all badgered her about how much she spent on a little girl she didn't even know, Sam finally told them around $130. Imagine her shock when they said, "You're stupid! You'll never even meet that kid. She won't ever know what you did for her. What a waste of money!"

These kids spent the rest of the week angry with my daughter because she wouldn't be buying them expensive gifts this year... Really? Although we don't go to church, I am a Christian and I do speak with my children frequently about God and Jesus Christ and what our purpose on Earth is. My belief is your religion, race, sexual preference, sex, age, or amount of money do NOT determine whether or not you are a good person. My belief is we are here to love each other, to help those less fortunate than we are, and to spend our time trying to improve ourselves. 

All Samantha's friends are very strict Christians who go to church every single Sunday, look down at Samantha because she drank alcohol (at family functions) three times in her life, and sometimes tell her she's a bad person because we don't go to church. However, I don't understand how these same teenagers don't understand the meaning of Christmas! They are angry because Samantha made a decision to help someone less fortunate than all of them, instead of buying them each big gifts? They tell her she's stupid because the little girl will never give her any recognition for the good deed? 

I don't understand. What do they teach in some of these churches? And no, I'm not saying all churches are bad. I don't believe in organized religion but I do think it is good for some people. But do they not understand what seems to me to be the most basic of Christian values? You do not give with the intention of receiving adoration and acknowledgment for giving. That is not the point. Samantha did it because she wanted to make sure someone with less than we have has a wonderful Christmas. 

I'm not trying to say my daughter is any better than anyone else, though I must admit to being extremely proud of her. I guess all this just makes me see even more that I am blessed. I hope anyone who sees this blog will take an extra moment to do something nice for a stranger this Christmas season. Even non-Christians can celebrate this way! Shovel your neighbors sidewalk without telling them you did it. Drop some food off on someone's doorstep that you know is struggling (but run away before they catch you and see who did it). Smile at the person in the store who looks down and needs a friendly face to lift them up that day. Anything...little things. Small kindnesses do make a difference. 

I believe that most people really want to be good people. Maybe that is my optimism showing, but I don't think any of us set out to be greedy or uncaring of others. I think in our 'me, me, me, get it now, bigger, faster, better society,' sometimes it's easy to forget about others and be very me-centric. I know I can be sometimes. I think we all can. The trick is looking outside our own family and selves at the bigger picture of life. 

Merry Christmas to all my readers and friends (if you have different beliefs than me, that's okay too - Happy Holidays, whatever that means to you). I wish you all great happiness and a wonderful year. Let's all hold the reason for the season in our hearts and do everything we can to be compassionate to our fellow man and love one another. 

Below is a video of lights synchronized to my favorite Christmas song, O Holy Night. Not the best light show I've ever seen, and I will be sharing others in the next few weeks, but I love Christmas music and I love Christmas lights, so this is perfect. Enjoy!

Peace and love, friends! Have a fantastic week!


  1. Wow, Chantel, your daughter did such a wonderful and thoughtful thing! It's a shame her friends aren't as benevolent and mature.

  2. Good for her. The only true giving is done anonymously. Needing something back isn't really giving is it?

  3. Thanks for the comments. I can tell you I'm pretty darn proud of her and her generous nature. She will have a richer life because of it. Maybe some day her friends will figure things out. I do know that giving to someone else is one of the best things you can do for yourself--haha, I guess I AM a selfish giver, because I like the feeling it gives me. That's what makes Christmas time so great.

    Merry Christmas to you both and thanks for the comments. It's nice to know I'm not the only person who thought this was crazy! ;-)

  4. Thank you for sharing Samantha's story. She has a big heart and understands that Christmas is for giving and showing the love of Christ to someone else, not getting things for yourself. I bet you're really proud of her. I am too just reading her story. She's a wonderful person just like her mother.]

    This is what Jesus said about loving those who cannot give back to you.

    Matthew 5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
    5:47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
    5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    1. Thanks, Rachelle, you are too kind! And, yes, I'm definitely proud. She's a good kid. We decorated the tree last night and sang Christmas songs - so fun. I hope you are having a fun Christmas time with your family, too!


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