A different kind of holiday

Today I went to the mall with my mom. I wanted to spend time with my mom and she wanted to shop, so that is how I ended up there. I realized that it has been a very long time since I have purchased anything for myself that was not out of necessity. I will admit that there was a moment that I felt this sort of impulsiveness come over me. I found this beautiful pair of tall, brown leather English riding boots. They were gorgeous and they fit perfectly. Yes, I actually tried them on. Next, I tried on this gorgeous dress and a beautiful red winter coat. The outfit looked perfect. Lastly, I looked at the price tags and where the items were made and I quickly returned them to the rack. My mom knew that I liked the boots because I kept them on longer than the other clothing items. I think she was even excited at the prospect that I might actually accept her offer to buy me something. I didn’t accept her offer.

I will be honest. I am a little heartbroken. I have come to realize that most of us don’t know how to engage in quality over quantity. I saw so much money being spent today on stuff, just loads and loads of stuff. We are a consumer-driven society and it turns out that we have forgotten about the good stuff, like hugging, freshly cooked meals, conversations without iPhones, eye contact and expressing our gratitude for the people and things in life without using money.

My dad called me last night and asked me what I wanted for Christmas. My list went something like this: dog food, chapstick, winter gloves and a new daily planner. He sighed per usual and said, “Ok, Liz.” I realize now that it is best to just give a list of things that I need because otherwise people become offended and uncomfortable. What I really wanted to say is, “dad, just give me a few extra hugs this holiday season, I won’t remember the chapstick when you are gone.”

You see, a few days ago I was walking around my neighborhood and I ran into a former student of mine. He was waiting for the bus. He smiled when he saw me and he began making small talk. He is a gentle soul that is autistic and has practiced the art of small talk as to give people what they are looking for socially so that he can feel loved and accepted. Underneath his smile, he looked really really sad. My heart dropped. This young man has grown up in a world of foster care. Unfortunately, many of these families have been abusive to Carl physically and emotionally. Money was the driving force for taking a young, helpless child off of the street. Carl was recently living with two women. They were manipulative and abusive and they stole from him. They told him that no one would ever love him. They told him that he couldn’t survive without them. Carl knew that he wasn’t being treated well, but he loved his moms because they were all he had ever known in the way of parents. Carl recently left his foster parents to live on his own. Carl does not have family or friends yet, but I promise that if any of you were to meet him, you would quickly see the depths of his beautiful soul and you would want him in your life for the rest of your time here on Earth. Having always struggled to survive, Carl understands what is important in life and material items are not at the top of his list.

So, in a few days Christmas will be here. Most of us will over consume food, alcohol and stuff. Most of us who will participate in the holiday season already have too much of the above items. So, let’s be gentle on ourselves and share quality moments with those around us. Tonight I made two phone calls. The first one was to my parents to let them know that I would not be joining them on Christmas Eve. The second phone call was to Carl to ask him if he would like to spend the holiday with me. While I can’t promise Carl “things” as I don’t have much in the way of things myself, I can promise him a damn good Christmas Eve full of laughter, love, hugs and friendship.

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