December is a glorious month of festive lights, feasts, sacred religious observances and gift giving. As the year enters its longest, darkest period, these celebrations can help lift spirits as we move through winter.
For some, though, December festivities can be tough, full of sadness and not joy. As Nonviolence Works director Mary Gray notes, people who have lost loved ones, are struggling with addiction, facing illness, or struggling to pay bills, may not find these days so festive. People without homes are thinking less about gifts and more about where to find shelter from the cold – much as Mary and Joseph with a babe in arms did so many centuries ago.
Elderly people, far from family, may feel isolated and alone.
Even those with jobs may realize they don’t have the money to buy their loved ones many gifts or fancy ones. They may be tempted to pull out credit cards and spend more than they can afford, leaving them to face a bigger burden after the holidays.
The best gift of all, in the end, for and from any of us, is the gift of time.
Time to laugh with those we love and who love us.
Time to really listen to each other, down to the depths of our hearts.
Time to acknowledge our short and precious existence on this small blue planet that we all share.
Divided though we may be by politics, history, class, income and ideologies, time well-spent helping each other is never wasted.
In the end we all share this: Our time is limited and we never know when our minutes in this life will be over.
So this month, pull out the best gift you can give – your time, yourself.
Spend it with those you love, spend it with those who have no one else to turn to. Pitch in to help out an organization that is helping others (we have lists of them under volunteer opportunities). Cook a meal for a neighbor. Offer to help an elderly person with home repairs. Take walks with friends.
Spend your gift of time wisely.
It is the most precious gift of all.