There is a story my family reads every Christmas Eve. While my family has always been one of little traditions, this particular one has been especially meaningful and, well, special.
The story tells the tale of a small boy, barefoot and ragged, wandering alone on Christmas Eve. We walk with him through the story as he searches for a place where he will be welcomed, asking over and over “will you share your Christmas with me?” He is turned away by servants in mansions, children in nice homes, parties with family as friends, gifts and cheer. We wander together down the ever darker street until finally he reaches a tiny cold home, a woman and two children, a candle in a cup with a sprig of pine as the only Christmas decorations. He is welcomed in, and from the mothers warm lap hears the story of the first Christmas. After the story there is a small flash of light and the boy is gone, the mother tells her remaining children a legend; that Christ wanders looking for people to share Christmas with him, “whatever you have done unto the least of these you have done unto me” is the line inscribed at the end.
Through tears I have yearly heard my great grandmother, then my grandmother, and at times even my mom read the story. Always touched by the poor boy alone in the night, and the realization that I too would likely turn him away.
This year I have thought of it frequently. I have been struck these past few weeks by how little time we (me especially) want to put into others. We are deeply sunken into an era of self. Self help, self improvement, self enlightenment. We are disillusioned trying to fine meaning and joy in ourselves. Viewing what we want and need or can accomplish as more important than our relationships. I have had all of this running through my head in this week leading up to New Years. The biggest self help holiday of them all. Millions of diets and exercise plans will begin tomorrow morning. Cussing, smoking, and over indulging will end after tonight.
But what if, and try to stick with me here, what we instead each created resolutions that were others focused this year. Don’t get me wrong, diet and exercise are excellent priorities, but what if this year you focused on more time for others. Volunteering once a month (or maybe 13 times this year, in honor of 2013). What if we tried to be better listeners, putting our iPhones away when a living breathing friend is there with us? What if, like the story, we were willing to share our valuable times and experiences with someone new?
So here are my resolutions, and as risky as it is, I encourage each of you to hold me to them.
– Be present. I want to be more unplugged this year. I will not use my phone (unless necessary) when I am spending time with friends and family. I will leave it in the other room, or on silent and untouched if I have to have it with me. This may be tough!
– Share my time. I hope to be less selfish with my time. Making quality time with my friends a priority. In addition, I am going to try to volunteer, (more on this coming in future posts). Also, better scheduling is a goal that I will include here. I will try to cut back on last minute plans, helping my friends feel like a priority by planning ahead to see them. And limiting conflicts and last minute cancellations.
– Benefit of the doubt. I love to judge people, their choices, their priorities. I am going to try to stop this and give people a chance to prove who they are. I want to be someone that loves people and that people feel loved by. This may involve cutting down on my sarcasm, which to be honest, I am not looking forward to.
– Warm up. This is my final goal. I am not sure if I should blame my job, my experiences, or just my brain, but somehow I have seen and felt myself turning cold. I am quick to snap or get angry. I have defensively worked hard to not feel. I want to try to melt my chilly heart, just a tad, and make more room for loving and feeling. We will see…
So there it is. What are your goals for the coming year? What are your priorities.
Also, my family and I did this at dinner last night, I encourage you to give it some thought before marinating yourself in sparkling holiday cheer tonight.
– 2012 high point
– 2012 low point
– goal for 2013
Happy New Year! I will tell you all about my work out less week of celebrations across New York and Massachusetts tomorrow!