I can still vividly remember the first time I purchased gifts to give to people I loved. It was during Christmas I was ten and I bought four gifts. One for each of my two sisters, my brother and my Mom. I had saved money from chores and babysitting and had carefully thought about what I wanted to give each of them. All year my brother talked about a remote controlled car he really wanted, one of my sisters was obsessed with dolls and the other with sweets so I bought her tons of old fashioned candy that came in a booklet all for herself (as the oldest sibling I had initiated a sibling code about sharing. None of us could bring in anything into our home without sharing. This time she was free not to share.) I was however, most proud of what I purchased for my Mom. A bottle of Coty perfume gift-wrapped with a red bow. I think they were all surprised I had made this gesture and presented them with gifts. My Mom was concerned (as only a Mom would be) that I had spent all my hard-earned money on these gifts, but it didn’t matter to me. I wanted to give to these special people whom I loved so dearly. It brought me such joy to see my brother’s sweet little face burst into smiles with his new battery operated car. I also had a clear understanding that this exchange would be one-sided and I would not receive a gift from my siblings in return. It didn’t matter to me one bit, because my giving was motivated by love and nothing else. That was enough for me then even at ten years old. Fast forward to present day and I am still motivated by love to give, but I must admit I am not an easy person to present with gifts. I consider myself a fortunate person and there is nothing that I really need. I write that with complete gratitude for all I’m fortunate enough to have. I have enough things and truthfully I have a sort of minimalist approach about “things” in general. What I love and cherish most is time. I want more time with my friends, my family, with myself. Sometimes I want to go back in time for one more splendid afternoon with my grandmother just to hold her soft hands in mine. Sometimes, I want to go forward in time and see what will become of my nieces and nephews in the hope they turn out to be the happy and good people I so dearly wish they become. Time is a treasure and some of us foolishly waste it. I can’t think of a greater or more luxurious gift than spending uninterrupted hours with my niece baking cookies and talking about everything going on in her teenaged life or ordering Thai takeout with my nephew while watching endless episodes of The Walking Dead. I guess if I’m going to break it all down, connection is more important to me than any one tangible thing. I find myself pressed for time constantly, short on it and craving it all at once. It’s quite clear that moments with the people that matter to me most is an incomparable luxury I don’t get enough of. (Trust me Mom, I would rather spend every Sunday afternoon in your kitchen if I could.) Time and I are often in a quarrel, sometimes I win and sometimes I lose. I’m aiming to win more.
I have more faith than I ever thought possible of making moments more meaningful. Recently, we lost our great-aunt. She was our family matriarch, a woman ahead of her time. She loved philosophy, history, nutrition, politics and humanity. An impressive woman with high standards and tons of integrity. Everyone that knew her was well aware of her wit and intelligence as well as her ability to love unconditionally. Before she died two wonderful things happened. We surprised her with a grand 90th birthday party during the spring. We pranked her and told her she was just going to a quiet dinner with her granddaughter, but were actually awaiting her arrival at my aunt’s house with a big party in motion. I mean practically THE entire family showed up! There were so many of us that we decided to wait in the driveway and when she pulled up and saw us all there her eyes quickly filled with tears. She was so moved and overwhelmed with love. She said she had wished and dreamt for that moment to happen, but didn’t think it was possible because everyone was so busy. I am so glad that as a family we made that gift possible for her. It was incredibly meaningful to her and to me as well. I asked her privately if she had a happy day and she replied, “oh yes, it was my dream to have you all together.” That’s a big damn deal. Ask me what my dream is and surely it will be more complex and seemingly unattainable, but her dream was simple and it came true. The second amazing thing happened right before she died. My family (a powerhouse of diverse, strong-willed, quirky and interesting characters) came from near and far to visit her while she was alive and very present. We knew she was going to leave us, but we came together to show her love. It was that simple. I'm still touched by the tenderness everyone expressed to her in her last moments. I was able to witness raw and real emotion and that's kind of my thing. I am ruled by sincerity and heart. I think it was the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. She died with the people she loved most around her, showering her with love. I believe that in the end of this one and precious life love is all that matters. That sounds like a cliche, but being in the moment, giving love and being grateful that love like this somehow finds you in this life is an amazing gift. At least that’s how I feel.
Dear friends, I hope wherever you are, in your life or where you want to be that you can slow down and see the chaos for what it really is. A temporary distraction you will get through. I hope you can temper it down and focus on your holiday dinner and the family and friends that come to visit from so far away. I hope there is laughter, music and good food at your table. I hope the lonely neighbor living down the street from you is welcomed to share your good fortune. That our friends around the world in war and suffering find peace. That those responsible to lead us can agree to do what is right for all. I hope you let go of whatever has hurt you to allow the joy back in. I hope that anyone feeling a bit broken or lost right at this moment can take a deep breath and find that sliver of light to crack yourself wide open and put yourself together again. I hope great, big wonderful love to fill every second of your days and that you don’t miss any of it. Time is generous, but not limitless and there is no time to waste. Say the things you need to say and love the way you want to love. At the end of the day, I hope love wraps you tenderly and in triumphant abundance.
Thank you for a wonderful year from me and all of us at LBF. We wish you a happy holiday season and a bright new year to come. It's your time.
With love and gratitude,