Last Saturday, I went to meet a student. I shared with her how hard it is for me to celebrate birthdays and holidays because they remind me of how I should be the other 364 days in the year. Examples I gave included Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day. I then proceeded to ask what she thought about this. “Good question.”
I thought so too because it’s been what has triggered my Scrooge mentality for years.
Then, she said, “but on days like Thanksgiving, I think we can be more thankful.” Okay… I hadn’t heard that before, or at least I hadn’t been willing to hear it. The more I chewed on this conclusion, the harder it was to forget. I couldn’t let those words go. The following day’s (Sunday) afternoon was when the excitement and joy hit me. In my heart, I realized what I had been doing for years was hurting the relationships I have with people. Why? Because I wasn’t looking into others’ love languages. I was being selfish and not thinking about the joy that others could be experiencing with gifts, time together, etc.
The thoughts continued to flood in… I could have been and still could be giving people joy, smiles and laughs. I really want to bless others and make them feel special regardless of whether it’s a birthday, holiday, or whatever it is. Not too long after this, I called a few Chinese co-workers/friends to see if they would like to decorate the office. They happily agreed, and an hour later (after dinner, of course), we were at work in our office on a Sunday night. There was a joy, a spirit, a freedom (if I may say) in the air and in my heart.
At least a couple times recently, a student has said something to me that was 180 degrees from what I thought, but what they said proved to change me for the better.
The other moment came when the same 5th grade student and I were talking about technology. I asked her if she preferred technology or the whiteboard, thinking that technology would be the choice. “Both are okay.” I couldn’t shake those words off either. I was for sure that the iPad would override the writing notebook. It didn’t help that, at that time, my marriage wasn’t doing too well because of my technology use. Little did I know that an 11-year-old would be my counselor and guide.
[Thank You, God, for the strange ways you work in and through children. They are wonderful teachers, most of the time, better teachers because of the personal and profound ways they strike my heart.]
Needless to say, since decorating the office, I’ve played more Christmas music in the last two days than I think I have in the last two years combined. (Thank you, NSYNC and Plus One for fantastic albums!) I have bought gifts for my students and others, more than the recent years combined. I’ve smiled and laughed more at this time of year than I have the past few years.
Do I say this to brag? No. Do I say this to force you to go out and buy things for people? No. What I do say all of this for is to again look outside of yourself. Get to know those around you, and bless them since you’ve been blessed. Share joy, smiles, memories and laughs together. As my student put it so well, “I think we can be more” this holiday season. You fill in the blank. What I do recommend is that it be a positive feeling that won’t hurt you emotionally. And lastly, I urge you as you read this to look into the life of the Savior who came down for us. Your life won’t be the same, especially if they’re are children in it.