I took a break from working today to grab a cup of coffee at my favorite local nonprofit. It’s a great place. They employ kids who want to get off the streets and need to create a job history.
I was in town to “deck the halls” of my work. Truthfully, though, I have mixed feelings about Christmas, especially the gift buying. It’s not that I don’t enjoy buying gifts for people I care about, but I feel it has come to usurp the higher values of the holiday. Like community. And family. And the celebration of an idea that still thrills my heart: that the impossible might still break into our world.
I was talking to the barista today, a young man in his twenties, who I have become quite fond of. (The last two I became attached two reverted back to their previous ways of living in the world: doing drugs or deciding everyone would understand if they just didn’t show up to work for a few days.) The people who work with these kids are amazing.
Anyway, I had grabbed my cup of coffee and was ready to walk back when I expressed to my favorite barista that I wished that Christmas could come without all of the gift buying. He just smiled and told me he was looking forward to Christmas this year for the first time in a while. Why? Because this year, he had been saving some money after securing his job as a barista, and this year, he would be able to get gifts for his family. And his adorable baby girl. He was even putting a tree up in their apartment this year.
Once again, I was hit in the gut with my life of privilege. Isn’t it nice that I have been so over-saturated with gifts and gift buying that I wish to have a break from it? Meanwhile, this young man was grateful that he had the possibility of giving for a change. Giving makes him happy. And grateful.
I am not saying that this justifies the consumerism that sucks the life out of so many holidays. But, it is a good reminder on this Thanksgiving weekend that living a grateful life and sharing your abundance is really, really good for your sense of well-being.
In the wise words of Meister Eckhardt, “If the only prayer you ever say is “Thank you”, that is enough.”