I joined my youngest daughter last evening at 'Twas the Night' at a downtown mall. Chantal Kreviazak sang, a giant Christmas tree was lit and stores were filled with holiday specials including wine and beer and appetizers in the more upscale premises. It was fun to spend the time with my daughter -- I actually did some Christmas shopping which for me is unheard of in November -- I really am a 'wait until I have to do it because there's little time left to do it in' kind of shopper.
We wandered the stores and levels of the mall, people scurried by arms laden with parcels, servers walked past proffering trays of savories and treats, a jazz trio played Christmas favourites and other seasonal selections, and all around lights and bows and crinkly decorations twinkled in the night. It was a fund-raiser for the United Way of Calgary BeCause initiative and given the challenge of finding a parking spot, the line-ups at the cashiers and the number of bags every shopper carried, it must have been a huge success.
I loved spending the time with my daughter. Loved watching her try on this and then that and asking, "Aren't you supposed to be buying for others?" and receiving her response, "I deserve gifts too!" to which I replied (everytime) "Oh goodie. Then if you're buying your own gifts I don't have to buy you anything..." I smile. She pouts. We both laugh.
And when we were finished, we bid each other goodnight with a hug, a kiss and a heartfelt, I love you. I walked back to my car and waited while a group of women searched for their tickets to the event so that they could enjoy their free parking. I never did get my ticket from my daughter. I'd paid her for it but she'd arrived earlier than me as she was volunteering for the first three hours of the event. When I arrived, I stood by the entrance, talking to her on my cellphone, giving her directions as to which entrance to find me at. The woman taking tickets for the evening heard me tell Liseanne, "Just bring my ticket to the door," and waved me through. "Not a problem," she said. "You can just go through." First mission accomplished. I did buy a ticket. My daughter didn't want to come to the other end of the mall to give it to me. I did speak loudly enough for the woman at the entrance to hear me. I did get in without said ticket! :)
And in the end, I paid the $2 or a Toonie as it's called here in Canada, for my parking and felt it was money well spent. Though if the other women hadn't decided to pay the Toonie too, I might still be standing by the parking machine as they searched for their tickets amidst all the paraphernalia they were carrying!
I drove home and I looked up into the deep inky sky of night and witnessed the crescent moon spilling light upon the darkness. It was so beautiful it took my breath away. I envisioned the Universe cradling her baby in her arms, I felt myself rocked in the womb of creation.
And that's when the tears came. I feel hung-over this morning, saddened -- and I only had half a glass of Prosecco!
There was so much activity last night. So much excess.
Don't get me wrong. I love spending time with my daughters and wandering through stores is one of our favourite ways to spend time together. We laugh and giggle over feather vests that truly are ridiculous and ten inch spike heels that truly are insane. We chortle over who looks funniest in that hat or those glasses, and who can dance the craziest in public just for the fun of it (I always win I might add).
But the commercialization of Christmas has gotten to me. It was there last night. In every festive ball and bow, in every twinkling light, in every carol note. Even the tree got 'super-sized', it's lighting ceremony heralded as the lighting of the tallest Christmas tree in Canada. And it isn't even a real one. It's artificial.
It is time for me to take the buying out of Christmas and put the heart back in its place.
It is time to stop the excess as I sink into the abundance of what I have.
And it is time to quit worrying about what am I going to 'get' the one's I love and put my focus on what I have to give. For in giving what I have, I receive.
And what I have is what I want to share the most. Peace. Hope. Love and Joy.
There they are again. Those four words of Advent.
I am meditating on Peace this week. I didn't find much of it last night. It wasn't that it wasn't there. It's just that I wasn't focused on what was important for my heart to feel it. I was busy buying up 50% off and buy one get one free. I was immersed in the excess.
And in that immersion I find myself searching for the heart of what ails me. In the excess, in the artificial tree and singing voices, there is something to hold onto. There is the reality that buying special things for people I love is fun when I take the 'I'm doing this because it's Christmas' out of the equation and focus on three simple words, "I love you." And I don't need stuff to express my Love.
There are many gifts in living the traditions we have created around this special time of year, and they don't all have to be bought. In those gifts, is the truth for me -- It is not in the buying I receive, it's in the giving. And when I give with my heart filled with love, I receive that which I give, that which I want most in the world, Peace. Hope. Love and Joy.