It’s about what you’ve given back that matters during the holiday season

It’s about what you’ve given back that matters during the holiday season

“At the end, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” – Denzel Washington

My wife and I decided to forgo exchanging presents with each other this Christmas. Now I realize for some of you reading this, the notion of not having a gift to open on Christmas morning is a desecration of the holiday itself.

But what if, instead of lavishing each other with gifts we may or may not want or need, we did as Mr. Washington states – it’s about what you’ve given back.

In our home, a lesson learned from the pandemic has been the realization that we are incredibly fortunate and unquestionably blessed. We’ve come to discover a great appreciation for the little things, the big things, and everything in between. So much so that it’s left us feeling undeserving when so many have so little and find each day filled with unending struggles.

Hoarding the many blessings my life has been bestowed doesn’t serve anyone but myself at the end of the day. But, at some point, it’s about what you’ve given back to “help others without any reason and give without the expectation of receiving anything in return” (Roy T. Bennett).

And so, this holiday season, we purchased a lot of presents – but none of them were for us. Instead, they were for a local family, who all wrote down some of the gifts they’d ask Santa for this year.

What struck me immediately was how many necessities (not luxuries) were on their lists. Coats, warm gloves and hats, shoes, measuring spoons, socks, and many others – items which might not seem like Christmas presents to us but would provide the kind of joy a Christmas present is supposed to during the holidays.

My wife and I spent hours bouncing from one store to the next as we crossed off items on our gift list. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed Christmas shopping that much as I was overcome with such a feeling of warmth knowing that the recipients would truly appreciate these items for their intended purpose. It almost made me want to believe in Santa Claus again as it brought some of the spirit of the season back into my heart.

As I mentioned above, the notion of not having a gift to open on Christmas morning is difficult for some to comprehend. But the truth of the matter is that there is no greater gift I could receive on Christmas morning than spending one more Christmas with my wife. Another lesson from the pandemic, life is not infinite.

This year, we’ve adopted the idea that it’s about what you’ve given back that matters during this season of giving. So, in a few days, we’ll start wrapping the presents that now fill our spare bedroom, and when we do, I’ll think about each family member unwrapping these gifts and the smile I’m sure will be on their faces. That’s the real joy in Christmas – sharing your gifts with those less fortunate.