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I can very easily retrieve to memory Thanksgiving evening, 2008. The house was filled with strays and non strays alike. Laughter, music and the occasional snore echoed from every corner. The aroma of what seemed like hundreds of side dishes and the most succulent bird ever roasted still clings to me. This obvious gift of being in the company of family and friends is something we all desire, something we all deserve. Days like this remind us of the beauty and the bounty of life and the perpetual nature of Universal love. Somehow it seems we don’t care that every dish, pan, pot and utensil we own are taking up every square inch of counter space we have, or that red wine was spilled on our light beige carpet. There is a lovely energy of safety and coziness that spills into and out of everyone’s hearts. The simple beauty of the experience takes over, and all is well. Everyone sincerely thanked us as they left our home for all the we provided. At the same time, we felt such joy in our hearts and appreciation for them. It is because of their spirit and good nature that we had this experience. They gave us the most fantastic gift of all: Themselves. It is in the act of giving which promises us the most joy and grace. This was crystal clear.

I slept like a sweet little content baby that night then woke in a panic when I realized that Christmas was four weeks away. I had so much preparing and shopping to do. It’s Black Friday! I pulled the covers back over my head. Another year, another sincere vow made to myself out of desperation, as no doubt most of us do, that this year would be different. I was dizzy with the memories of the day before, and the daunting tasks ahead. The thought of creating a spreadsheet type shopping list and being among the other perfectly coiffed early birds at the stores today caused me to wrinkle and cringe. I wanted it to be yesterday, every single day of our lives.

Why is it if these emotionally charged expressions of love and giving like our Thanksgiving are so wonderful that we limit them to traditional calendar holidays? Why can’t every day including every calendar holiday hold such pure significance without all the rush and chaos?

Is the need for structure integral to the human condition? Or, perhaps we innately do not feel worthy to share beautiful experiences with one another unless there is a reason. And then when given a reason, we topple piles of stress on to ourselves in the process, as if the more we pile on, the more we are admired or the more accomplished we cause ourselves to feel. When will we ever learn?

Culturally, we tend to view gifts as tangible items. When we give or receive a gift, it typically comes in the form of a box that is wrapped, then unwrapped, to uncover an item that was purchased. Hopefully, this gift was purchased with thoughts of the recipient’s taste and desires as well as concern with regard to the conditions under which the gift was manufactured. Did you happen to purchase a product that supports your local economy? Does your gift come from a legitimate Fair Trade certified artisan partner which in turn provides fair wages, a sense of value and hope to impoverished villages and communities globally?

Gifts are given and received to celebrate personal milestones and holidays. I feel so happy when I give a gift that really lights up someone’s world. That to me, is the best gift I myself could ever receive, gratitude through creating a smile on someone’s face.

Have you ever considered viewing every single day that you lift your head off of your pillow a holiday? How much fun would this be? The word holiday has Greek roots. Traditionally, the word means “holy day“, which was intended to provide laborers with days off so they can give gifts of worship at church. Gifts of worship. I say let’s start an “Every Day is a Holiday” revolution.

What if we unconditionally gave gifts every day? What if we in this day, age and societal setting worshipped others by providing them with gifts on some random Thursday? Loved ones and strangers alike. Gifts that perhaps are monetarily free, yet are rich in meaning and caring. Offering a smile to a stranger is a great way to spread caring. Prepay the order for the car behind you at the drive-through window. How about giving the gift of time to an elderly person in line at the grocery store? Just for giggles, take your neighbor’s recycling bin from the road and return it to their garage. Just do it for the hell of it, not a pat on the back. They may never know who provided this gift for them, yet is just that sort of positive energy that is highly contagious. I have a distinct hunch that you will be afforded the same sorts of gifts.

Kindness in the form of conscious gift giving is viral. May you catch it.


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