But really, December, and the holidays it brings, is probably the most stressful time for working moms. Our schedules are thrown off balance by traffic made heavy with shoppers; our purses are opened to their widest by gifts to purchase; our patience is stretched to its thinnest by our trying to make time for work, family obligations and all the social events we want to attend.
In the rush of the Christmas holidays, we wing our away through December, trying to capture the true spirit of Christmas but instead end up unintentionally capturing humbug, the spirit of pretense and deception.
Years ago, humbug was what I caught every December from eating an enormous amount of fatty foods during the holidays, accumulating huge debts on various credit cards, sleeping wickedly late because of too many socials, and trying to create a picture perfect Christmas. No wonder, I spent the New Year just trying to recover from this “sickness.”
Four years ago, I vowed to recover from this yearly malaise and catch the true spirit of Christmas instead. So what is the true spirit of Christmas? Well, as we all know, it is being able to share our blessings. Many interpret this as giving gifts or money and unclogging our closets to give old clothes, books and toys to the needy. However, while material things can be blessings, blessings are not always material. According to wise Webster, a blessing is a “thing conducive to happiness and welfare.” Thus, this can cover anything and everything that give happiness to other people, whether material or non-material. And if we believe the saying that “what is essential is invisible to the eye,” non-material blessings may last longer than material ones.
Here are some ways you can share your blessings this Christmas:
• One of the most valuable non-material blessings we can share this Christmas is kindness. Kindness is in such short supply these days. I know of one executive assistant who, in the five years I worked with her, never uttered an unkind word about anyone whether boss, peer or subordinate. I could never get her to say anything negative about anyone. It was consciously a Christian act for her not to be unkind. For me, it was a “classy” act especially these days when it has become a “trend” in the workplace to be catty about other people. And the sad part is that women are often the butt of gossip circulated at work by women themselves who see other women as their “competitors.”
This Christmas (and hopefully, afterwards), try being nice to a “sister” at work. Give a gift, sincere praise, a smile, a kind word, a helping hand, and an attentive ear.
• One of the things we place close to our chest is our storehouse of knowledge and competencies. People who have risen in their careers have a treasure chest of competencies or skills that enable them to succeed in their careers.
Unfortunately, many successful people pass on to the next life without being able to transfer their technology” to the next generation. This is such a waste! Knowledge is meant to be shared, not stored. Why not teach a technique or two from your bag of competencies to a co-employee or subordinate? Teaching others what you have learned in life is one way of leaving a legacy that can be passed from one generation to the next.
• The phrase “It is the thought that counts” is not exactly correct. I also do not believe in the idea that it is the quality of time that counts, not quantity. I believe that love can only be expressed through action and one of the most powerful ways to demonstrate love is giving time for your loved ones. Not just quality time but lots of it. I once attended a life-changing career planning workshop. In that workshop, we were asked to analyze the time we devoted to various activities and how this allocation aligned with our values in life. I discovered to my horror that I was spending an average of five hours a day or a substantial 20% of my time traveling to and from my place of work. No matter what I did to make productive use of this time (like reading a book), this block of time away from work and family remained. Three years ago, I took drastic measures moved my work to my home and now I find I have plenty of quality time for my husband, my children and myself. I have since guarded my time meticulously, taking out all the non-essential activities from my schedule and devoting my hours to what’s important to me in life.
Kindness, learning and time these are three blessings we can share with others and enable us to get rid of the “humbug” that’s plaguing our lives and catch the true spirit of the holidays.
Author: Regina Galang Reyes. Republished in the Philippine Daily Inquirer December 5, 2004.
Photo credit: www.freerangestock.com