Tag Archives: generosity

SANTAAAAA!! (or not… but Christmas, anyway)

I like Thanksgiving– the food is great, seeing family is fun, and there’s always much to be thankful for.  But I’m one of those people who really loves Thanksgiving only because of what it means for the future.  To me, Thanksgiving simply means:

***********************CHRISTMAS IS COMING***********************

And Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year– FAVORITE!

The jingling! The jangling! The sparkling! The magic!!

A lot of people argue about the meaning of Christmas, whether it’s been overly commercialized, and how we spend too much time celebrating it.  I am not one of those people.  I don’t really care about any of that.

Because for me, during the Christmas season, my heart just SWELLS (end-of-the-movie-Grinch-style) and fills to the max, beating extra hard with joy as I see the beauty, the cheer, the peace, the comfort, the charity and generosity*, the grace, the family, the LOVE, and all the other beautiful and good things that the holidays bring.  That they epitomize, really.  And while I can’t comment as an expert on the holidays of the other major religions, I strongly suspect this to be the case surrounding Hanukkah and Kwanzaa as well. (Am I right?  Anyone?)

I absolutely adore putting up the tree, the scent of fresh pine filling my house as I hang up our ornaments, each one representing a beautiful memory.  I love that we get to go to Seth’s uncle’s tree farm to pick the tree out– grown and cared for by family for years.  I love the advent season, the spirit of expectation and of hope, peace, joy, and love as we light another candle each week.  (And I super love that my mother- and father-in-law just gave me a beautiful advent wreath as an early Christmas gift!! It’s gorgeous!!)  I love stringing the Christmas lights up on the house and remembering how year after year my dad and I struggled with new and more creative(ly dangerous) ways to get the lights all the way to the tippy top of our once-upon-a-time-Charlie-Brown-Christmas-tree that traveled with us all the way from Skandia to be planted in front of our house.  And I even love remembering the sound of the vacuum bulbs exploding when they hit the concrete because our latest and greatest plan didn’t quite pan out as expected. POP!

I love the scents (the cinnamon, the vanilla, the pine, the fresh cold snow), I love the sounds (the happy music and tinkling bells), I love the chill in the air (or the frigid snap of snot-freezing cold, as the case may be), and I love the giving and the receiving, the sharing of so much– gifts, food, love, time, whatever it is that we get to share this time of year.

Sometimes the hustle and bustle of reality threatens to overtake all the other good feelings I love to cultivate this time of year, but it’s completely in my power to prevent that and this year has felt nothing but good, despite the hardship.

My sweet puppy had to have a repeat knee surgery and she’s laid up for four full weeks, through Christmas. Nothing but kennel or potty with a leash and a sling. Seth and I are limited in how much we can be away from the house. But my sister-in-law agreed to pick me out a tree, and when I’m in the kitchen baking I know my husband is snuggling my pup and when I’m done it will be my turn. She is loved and she knows it and we’re making it work. Our house may be a bit messier, but it still smells like Christmas… and a little bit of poop. Did you know anesthesia can cause some severe diarrhea in dogs? Because it can. And it did. But don’t worry, mostly it just smells like Christmas now. (Thank goodness for the good people at Lysol, Clorox, and LG!!)

Our travel plans had to change on account of the surgery, but my sister and mom assured me that all that matters is getting to spend time together, not the day, and encouraged me and Seth to save vacation for a longer trip next year. So instead of a week long trip with our pup in tow, I’ll be making a quick jaunt over to celebrate Christmas the weekend before at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house. And even if I couldn’t, I guarantee you that every one of them would understand why. (But good news– I totally can!)

No matter the circumstances, the sights, sounds, smells, and most importantly, feelings of Christmas are everywhere this time of year– and, as I learned from The Muppet Christmas Carol, I should both honor Christmas and try to keep it all the year!

(Watching The Muppet Christmas Carol is my family’s Christmas Eve tradition.  We all packed together on the couch year after year, packing in another significant other or two as time went on, and watched that amazing movie– singing along with Kermit as Bob Cratchit and Miss Piggy as his wife, of course. My in-laws totally humor me by watching it now– that’s love! And that’s Christmas!!)


*Interested in learning more about generosity this holiday season? Check out my friend Chris Lema’s brilliant 30-day series on the subject. (Yes, I’m name dropping by qualifying that last sentence with “my friend,” but it’s true and I’m proud to get to say it.  I know him in real life, y’all!)  It’s a thing of beauty from the true master of generosity himself (trust me on this one, I have been the recipient of his generosity in so many ways it’s unbelievable).


Generosity following imperfection.

HUGE apologies to my email subscribers– my itchy trigger finger got the best of me and I published rather than saving and you all got a not-even-half-written idea of a post that I had just started working on.  I am sincerely sorry for that.  So here’s the full post for Thursday just a bit early to try to make up for the spamming of your inbox.  (I won’t let it happen again!)


Generosity.  Big word.

There are so many different ways to be generous.  And this week, I have been the recipient of generosity in so many ways.

The friends we vacation with are just like that– generous in ALL the ways.  They take us to amazing places that provide to the outside observer very visible and tangible evidence of their generosity.  And I completely agree, it’s incredible.  My husband and I have done SO many things we would never have had the opportunity to do and have had so many incredible experiences thanks to our unbelievable friends.  They are kind and generous in the extreme.  As they tell their children, they work hard to be able to bless others.  At this moment, I certainly feel blessed.  No doubt about that.  The pools, the palm trees, the views, the pina coladas, it’s all unbelievable.

But they are generous in even more spectacular ways that the outside observer probably has no idea about.  So I will tell you.

They are generous with their time.  This trip to Mexico is without a doubt a family vacation for our friends and their two little ones, and yet they invite my husband and me along.  We are included in ev-er-y-thing… from fancy excursions to bedtime hugs and everything in between.  The Lemas let us feel like part of this family, they share all of that precious time with us.

They are generous with their words.  Chris is the Chris of chrislema.com and as I worked on my biggest post of the week, he was dispensing free advice on how best to woo the reader with my blog formatting.  Do you have any idea how much something like that costs?!  A lot, I’m sure…. and Melissa is 100% mom-spirational.  She teaches me more than she could ever know about how to be a good mom someday.  That kind of advice is not only invaluable, but it literally cannot be bought.

They are generous with their hearts.  Chris, Melissa, and their kids, Emily and Christian, are unbelievable when it comes to generosity of the heart.  At dinner, both kids prayed for my husband and I during a 100% unprompted grace.  They also thanked God for this wonderful day.  Pure hearts, good parenting, a beautiful thing.

I don’t think that I could ever possibly begin to repay the generosity afforded me by this beautiful family, but I also don’t really think that that’s the point.  The generosity is poured out with no expectation of anything in return… except maybe to pay it forward when given the opportunity.

I like the idea of that.

By the way, I’m sitting next to my dear friend Melissa as I type this and when I cringed over the mistaken early publication of this post she said to me, “It’s ok.  Everybody makes mistakes.”

I cheekily replied, “Not me.  I was perfect until that happened.”

And brilliant and beautiful Melissa replied, “From the topside.”

Oh man, does she ever GET this tapestry thing.  Probably she should be writing this stuff, not me, but as long as it’s me doing the writing, I am crazy glad she is my friend.