Are you giddy thinking about the gifts you’ll get for Christmas? When was the last time you thought about the gifts you have already received and continue to receive every day?
I made a CD of me playing Christmas carols on the piano (I recorded on a keyboard) for each person in my Artist’s Way group. I have played the piano since I was five years old (many, many years ago). Although the notes don’t stream from my fingers without practice (and 17 years of lessons), I sometimes forget what a gift it is to be able to play the piano. Even I enjoy listening to my own CD.
I remember dating a man years ago who had not grown up in a household where lessons of any kind were a possibility, where attending cultural events was unheard of. He was so astounded as I showed him my scrapbook of all the things I had done growing up. My family was not rich, but my mother was intent on all four of her children having music lessons, singing in choirs, and having rich life experiences.
As I think of all the gifts I have, I think about those who have little. I wonder how many children of rape in the Congo ever even get any education. I wonder how many children in Darfur have ever heard a poem or read a book. I wonder how many children living in Haiti ever heard someone play the piano. I wonder how many innocent suspected terrorist detainees live a day without being tortured. I wonder how many Rwandan refugees have ever slept in a bed or felt safe. I wonder how many women who are victims of sexual violence as a tool of war believe they will ever feel a day of joy in their lives. I wonder how many children who are victims of sexual and/or physical and emotional abuse live in fear every day. I wonder if people held in slavery cry themselves to sleep at nights and feel dead inside.
The wrapped gifts are nice, but pale in comparison to the real gifts of life. Those of us who live free, in relative comfort, and in safety often forget what gifts freedom, comfort, and safety are. I don’t have to fear being attacked and raped when I venture out of my home to get food as women in the Congo do. If I decide to have sex with a man before marrying him, I don’t have to fear that my father might kill me to save the family honor. I have running water and indoor toilets. I have transportation, warmth, and a home to live in.
I am blessed with a good education and an ability to think and research and read and understand things. Even though I am often alone, I’m not really alone. There are people who care about me. I have good health. I have a faith in a power greater than myself.
As you go through this season of gift giving, consider the gifts you already have…the ones that are the most meaningful. Share those gifts with others and accept the personal gifts of love, care, kindness, and even a smile that others give to you. Tis the season.