That's right, Nada, Zilch, Nothing, Zero, None. No big holiday season. What a relief.
After all these years of saying it doesn't matter, that how we treat each other all year is what's important, that it's the simple things that matter, that it is unQuakerly to buy into all the Christmas Hype, I finally get it. It took my son to say to me, "I'm just not into this Christmas thing this year." And I felt that big sigh of relief come over me. "Yeah, me either," I tried to say calmly as I rejoiced inside. My son had in fact set me free. This year, we are going to spend time with each other, but we are dispensing with gift giving of any physical sort.
We are all stressed, for money, for our health, for time, for peace, for all the things that matter.
So this Christmas, what I am giving for gifts is this... Do you need an ear? A moment of peace? A little heart? A kind touch? A quiet place to be? A soft place to land? I have all those things to offer. Friends have offered them to me, as well.
"A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it ... It is as great presumption to send our passions upon God's errands, as it is to palliate them with God's name... We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive, or gain by love and information. And yet we could hurt no man that we believe loves us. Let us then try what Love will do: for if men did once see we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: and he that forgives first, wins the laurel."
I've read this passage over and over this year. William Penn said it in 1693. It has resonated to me on so many levels. What's also come to mind repeatedly is my favorite passage, in First Corinthians 13:1-13:
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.