“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Both / And, not Either / Or

There is a very neat meme doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment, which sums up the two Spirits of Christmas for me. It is a Christmas Bucket List, with six items, partly crossed out, and substituted with other words, so I'll have to paraphrase for it to make sense:

1. Instead of buying presents, be present.
2. Instead of wrap gifts, wrap someone in a hug.
3. Instead of send gifts, send love.
4. Instead of shop for food, donate food.
5. Instead of make cookies, make memories.
6. Instead of see the light, be the Light.

And yes, I get it, but in my opinion, it should be both/and, rather than either/or. I have bought presents for the people I love, but welcome the reminder to be present in the moment, day by day, instead of getting lost in the busyness. I will be wrapping the gifts I have bought this weekend, but will also be wrapping a lot of people in hugs, during the next few weeks (and being wrapped in hugs also, I hope!)

I will be sending gifts, but also sending love to all those people who make my life so blessed. Including you. I will be shopping for food, and have already paid a visit to the Northampton Food Bank with a donation. This Christmas, sadly, I won't be making or eating cookies, or mince pies or many other sweet Christmas treats, because most of them contain gluten, but I will surely be making memories, particularly on Boxing Day, when the whole extended Ellis family gets together at my parents, for what my mother insists on calling Christmas Day Two. And a very kind friend, who is also gluten-intolerant, has made me a beautiful little GF Christmas cake - so very lovely of her. Finally, as well as seeing (and enjoying) all the beautiful, colourful Christmas lights, I will be striving to be the Light for those I love.

It was a good reminder about the things which really matter at Christmas - not the tangible things that one can buy, and consume, but the gifts of love and awareness, which cannot be bought and always renew themselves. The things we can look back on with fondness, when the food has been eaten, the presents have been opened, the paper recycled, and the decorations taken down.

I also want to acknowledge what I think should be the true spirit of Christmas, "the spirit of good will and peace ... [the] spirit that bids us renew our hopes amid the gathering darkness, that kindles our generosity and our concerns, that attunes our ears to the ever-renewed angelic chorus" as Max Gaeble puts it. Because that is here too, in our minds, and in our hearts.

Wishing you a peaceful, blessed, and mindful Christmas.

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