Spirit of Christmas

    Spirit of the SeasonChristmas is not part of my belief system. In 2008 my quest for understanding the meaning of “the Season” and the “Spirit of Christmas” found me, at four o’clock in the morning, foggy-brained, befuddled, and seriously questioning my sanity as I stood in the kitchen of a women’s center, helping prepare a Christmas morning celebration for the women-in-residence and their children.

    By six, as the women — those who’d hit rock bottom, wanted to avoid rock bottom, or knew they’d been given a final chance — came downstairs to tables bearing gift bags for them, a brightly lit tree, wrapped presents for their children, fresh coffee, trays of pastries, and a festive breakfast, I knew I was in the right place at the right time.

    Watching the women give their children the presents they’d been up late wrapping, I was struck by the intangible gift they’d given themselves and their children, hope. Hope they could heal and hope their children would never need a place like the Center.

    Giving

    The in-residence Center afforded women time and opportunity to acquire skills for a non-addictive life. This program was unique in that it gave them six to twelve months (if need be) to learn about parenting, budgeting, communication, job hunting, etc.

    Their road to recovery is tangential, contains detours, and often includes backsliding. When that happens, I hope the women draw strength from mental snapshots such as that morning, reminding themselves, “Because I did it once, I know I can do it again.”

    That morning I learned, even though my dictionary defines addict as one who devotes or suffers (oneself) to something habitually or excessively, it turns out not all addictions appear equal to those who’ve taken it upon themselves to pass judgment.

    Drugs prescribed by doctors appear acceptable, those acquired by other means are not.

    Holding one’s alcohol appears admired, needing alcohol is not.

    Sexual relations with one partner at a time appears acceptable, relations with multiple partners is not.

    Workers who place job before family and go for the bottom line regardless of personal, societal, or environmental cost appear acceptable, other ways appear suspect.

    So in actuality, on December 25, in a safe haven where women work hard to overcome addiction and set an example so their children don’t repeat the cycle, I was given an amazing gift. I learned what C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S really is.

    COMPASSION for those struggling to overcome adversity and
    HOPING they prevail.
    REJOICING in their success as they
    INTENTIONALLY make choices to overcome their addiction(s).
    SINCERELY cheering them on as they
    TRY (and try and try and try again if need be). In that
    MAGIC moment, I witnessed in
    AWE as women beat the odds (and their personal demons), while within the
    SILENCE, I heard the gentle murmur of COMPASSION, thus repeating the cycle.

    Merry. Happy. CompassionateI was shocked to realize the components of Christmas are actually universal. There actually is more to “the Season” and the “Spirit of Christmas” than shopping. (Who’da thunk?)

    Here’s wishing you all a Merry, Happy, Terrific, Wonderful, Marvelous, and Compassionate.

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    Patti Hall - December 25, 2013 - 3:40 am

    Perfectly wonderful post! I love this story, Tana. thank you for sharing it with us.
    Warm Hugs,
    Patti

    Lori Jo Vest - December 25, 2013 - 8:07 am

    I love this story, Tana. You certainly have an amazing ability to see the light in even seemingly dark places. Big hugs to you!

    Tana Bevan - December 25, 2013 - 5:09 pm

    Thank you Patti. Up until that morning I’d not understood the whole “Spirit of Christmas” thing. (Particularly as I live near a mall.) If it is a part of your belief system, I hope yours was very special and truly in the Spirit of things. *smiles warmly*

    Tana Bevan - December 25, 2013 - 5:15 pm

    Thank you Lori Jo. Seeing light in the dark does not come naturally, though it is getting easier with practice. One of my favorite sayings is “No amount of darkness can extinguish the light of a single flame.” If Christmas is your holiday, here’s hoping you and yours had a light-filled, joyous day.

    Sheila Bergquist - December 25, 2013 - 10:24 pm

    All I can say is….beautiful! What a wonderful post and so true.

    Tana Bevan - December 25, 2013 - 11:14 pm

    Sheila, that morning was magical. I’m surprised I remember as much as I do since in my effort to satisfy my curiosity I’d also gone to a midnight mass a few hours before I found myself standing in the Center’s kitchen at 4 in the morning. Definitely glad I did. If this is a holiday you celebrate, I hope it was a magical one for you and yours.