Reflecting on Christmas' Past... and Paying it Forward!

This Christmas I’m alone, but I’m not lonely. Make sense? It’s the first year I don’t have either of my children with me. Yes, I am missing that time with them, but I am not lonely. I spent Christmas Eve with my youngest son, and spent a short time with my eldest son.

I awoke this Christmas morning to not feeling well and the cat meowing for food. After feeding the cat I began my morning meditation, as usual. I fell asleep and woke up to my mom calling to wish me a Merry Christmas.

I am truly grateful for where I am. I don’t mean being alone, but I am grateful for being home. I am grateful for my mindset and not going down that rabbit hole. I don’t need to go down that rabbit hole, because I have and continue to do my work to up-level my authentic self. I care for my soul and yes I did get sad for a brief moment earlier this week, but it wasn’t for very long, and the work I do for myself daily contributed to that.

I had a lovely conversation with my mom and reflected on Christmas’ past. I was and am extremely fortunate and grateful that my mom and I celebrated Christmas, starting when I was seven, in Tahoe skiing. At age eight my mom and I stayed in a cabin at Donner Lake and went skiing in Tahoe. I remember my mom and I getting Chinese food in Old Truckee on Christmas Eve to bring back to the cabin to eat, because the restaurant was always full. I would awaken to the most beautiful vision, of snow on the ground, the lake cool and crisp with the pier full of snow or partially covered, with the sun always beaming. When I close my eyes I’m back there with the smell of the wood burning stove and the funky ‘70’s carpet and the cabin full of love. My Christmas’ were skiing down slopes of powder, in a cool yet dry climate, while the warm sun was beaming on my face. I loved and love it!

My mom shared one of her favorite memories, which also happens to be one of mine, but from her perspective. We were at Homewood Ski Resort having lunch on the side of the mountain, sitting on a rock eating PB&J drinking hot cocoa. I said, “This is the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You finally got the peanut butter right!” I don’t remember saying that, however I believe it. My mom would buy one brand of peanut but and I liked another brand. That Christmas she got it right. My mom said that’s one of her fondest memories of Christmas, it’s one of mine too. It’s amazing how as individuals we receive something or remember memories similarly and differently.

I can say I have the most wonderful Christmas memories of my childhood and that is from my mother. My mom did not want me to have Christmas’ like hers, where she would receive an orange every year and whatever was needed for her to complete her chores, like a vacuum cleaner.

You reading this and me saying I spent my Christmas in Lake Tahoe skiing, you may assume my mom was doing well financially. My mom worked her ass off! When I was born my mom and I were on government assistance. My mom went to college to create a better life for her and myself, while her parents called her selfish and and said she was neglecting me for attending college. When I was four or five my mom was unable to buy Christmas presents for me. The church we attended brought toys and food for us. I had no idea that the church did this for us until last Christmas, when my mom told me.

I bring this up because we never know what is happening in someone else’s shoes. The second Christmas after leaving my partner I received a text message saying, “Santa left something on the doorstep.” I went outside to find a gift card so I could buy groceries. Tears began pouring down my face. I was grateful knowing we would be eating that Christmas season with the gift given to us, and knowing that the money I was intending on spending at the grocery store would be used for a Christmas gift for each of my boys. My friend also gave me money to purchase my boys Christmas gifts. My friend had been in a similar situation years before and was paying it forward.

This brings me to today. How do you choose to pay it forward? Do you choose to do what you can for others, and if so, how? It’s easy this time of year to pass by people asking for donations as if they blend into the landscape. It’s also challenging nowadays to know if people asking for donations for a specific charity are legitimate. What to do? Connect with others in your community, look for a church or charity in your town or city, and honestly if all else fails and it’s too late drop the items off at someone’s house that you know is in need. You may get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas or everyday life, and say I can’t pay it forward. Your financial mindset may be I don’t have money, but what you’re referring to is you won’t be able to go out to dinner that week or get your latte. Whereas someone else saying I don’t have money right now may be that they are busting their ass working six to seven days a week, or working full time and going to school and cannot afford Christmas gifts for their kids, because they won’t have food or make rent. Paying it forward isn’t just during Christmas, we have 365 days in a year. I encourage you to take time to consider how you can pay it forward, then make the choice, and take action. If you have children you are also demonstrating and teaching them to give and inspire others. In turn you will see your children giving and inspiring others. It’s a beautiful thing!