Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Give Thanks, and Give Back

Well. Don't I feel sheepish. Everywhere I look I am surrounded by giving amazing people, and here I am worrying over the state of my life. It's time to take a step back, think about how lucky I am, and work on making my environment better through working for others.

Lately I have not necessarily been a scrooge, but I have been focused on getting 'the family stuff' out of the way, or under control. I love Christmas. I love the giving that happens (not presents, just the helping and conscientious awareness of what others need). I also love the aesthetic- I don't have a big tree, I have a small wrought iron tree and some green shrubbies, but the white stuff flying outside my window (Oh, does it EVER snow in Edmonton!) definitely completes the white Christmas motif.

That said- the giving and the love and the 'Christmas Spirit' so to speak has not been on my mind. That has changed this week.

Story 1)
This weekend we went to my parents house for 'Christmas' (we have agreed to spend Christmas with one family each year- taking turns) My dad's mom and her husband were there. She has Alzheimers, and has a lot of trouble getting around. If you think there is no good in the world, you have not seen a family lovingly remind the matriarch more than 30 times a day who they are, where she is, that her purse is fine, and that they are there to help. You have not seen a 59 year old man help his mother shower, and then have his daughter do her hair so that she feels special. You haven't seen my rock climbing tom-boy of a sister do a perfect manicure on a shaky older woman who then struggles to open her gifts without wrecking said beautiful nails.

Story 2)
When we left, I forgot my phone at my parents house. I was just going to get a friend who would be in Calgary (a three hour drive away) to drop by and pick it up, but my father (a devotee to the laptop, the cell phone, and as of 'christmas' time a GPS for his car) realized I left it behind, and immediately sent it by overnight mail. He knows that although I don't NEED my phone, I am happier with it, and he is providing that for me. Small, but so thoughtful.

Story 3)
I follow a myriad of other blogs. I love watching people grow and experience their own 'stuff' and reflect on the impacts of those circumstances. This particular story has really touched me, because I feel I am lacking on the giving, and concentrating on the things I need this season. Even if you are not religious, you can see the beauty in the giving that is occurring in this world. For a family living in their car, to be offered several days within a warm, safe, comfortable hotel- with access to showers, bathrooms, conveniences that we in the western world all take for granted- this is a beautiful thing. I follow this blog because I am not particularly faithful, but I admire the people who are, who possess the faith and commitment to live their lives the way that their spirituality encourages them too. I also think it's important to acknowledge that not all people who believe something are crazy zealous 'bible thumpers' or potential terrorists, or loony yogic flyers. Some people just believe strongly and let it guide them. I wish I believed that strongly in something that made me be this good.

4) I stumbled upon this article this morning which astounded me with its beautiful lesson in paying it forward. If one person does something big, and the person who receives that does the same for someone else- HOW much could we change the world? Fine, it may be cliche, and it may already be a movie, but this AMAZING idea can wreak havoc on the cynics of the world. I am always a fairly squishy girl, but this story in particular makes me just cry with happy feelings for these gift givers, and I feel inadequate in my efforts to impact my world in a positive way.

Finanically, my family is struggling, we are on one income, and we have expenses, just like everyone else. That said- I have a home, I have a car that works, I have food in my fridge and even if all of that was gone, ripped away from me- I have MANY people who love me and would fold me in blankets of warmth and love and help me get back on my feet.

So. How does this tie into human ecology? Sure, it's not designing a shirt or testing a temperature or air purity deal. But Human Ecology is a person and how they interact in their environment. How I work with the world, how I impact the world is affected by my choices of giving.

So here it is. I am challenging myself, and others to concentrate on the little things, the giving things, and let go of the petty pesky things which often drag us down this time of year. It may make all the stupid stuff easier to deal with- who cares that your mom mentions your weight or your sister in law tries to tell you what to do when you know you have given back HUGE to your world (even if it touches one person, I know it's huge to them). Call it Karma call it Love, call it whatever you want. Just make it all about the give.


  1. You are so awesome. And you're right. Make it about the give.

    I LOVED your stories. I loved the story about your grandmother with Alzheimers because I too have known elderly people with this disease that robs them and others of so much. Such a sweet story you shared, and yes, all about the give.

    Your post really warmed my heart - especially after I just came from my own blog where, as you know, a few commenters said not such kind things to me. I came here to thank you for understanding me and for defending me.

    And I found your stories of kindness and giving. So I'm going to try to let the Wacky P stories fall to the wayside and mean commenters go their own miserable way. I hope that I too can find a way to give. It's important. It's meaningful.

    Did I tell you how awesome you are? Merry Christmas, Alex.

  2. Merry Christmas, babe. And don't think you didn't give something: you gave a friend a good smack upside the head when she was down, and she appreciates your candour and love, even when she doesn't feel she particularly wants or deserves it.