Holidays can focus harsh light on our relationships with others. The season sometimes becomes a time when it is hard to please and easy to slight even those who are closest to us. Feelings can be on edge during the season and seeking out perfection that is impossible to achieve is often part of the problem.
Old age and the soft light of a few winter sunsets in the marsh have taught me that life is not about the things you accumulate in life but about the connections you make and how well you nurture them. Life is mostly about relating to the people in your life. It is not an impossible task but you cannot relate to others if you do not communicate with them and understand their lives.
Our personalities have not escaped the people who have touched our lives over the years. Our lives are defined not only by our parents and relatives, but also by those friends with whom we have chosen to spend our time. The best friends and family are those who accept you as you are. To them the thickness of your wallet matters little. How you treat them is what matters most.
Those folks whose money and toys are more important than their friends fortunately easily disappear into the hustle and bustle of the season only to emerge at the other end not even understanding what they have missed. It is good to be with people who love others because they have taken time to get to know each other. The values and feelings of all the people that have influenced us provide us with ways to relate to others.
Unfortunately not everyone shares the same values and even among those who do, feelings are handled in different ways. We have all had to walk on egg shells at times to keep a good relationship going. Often during the holidays, giving others space and the benefit of the doubt can make the difference between good feelings and hard feelings.
Time has become the most valuable gift of all. No one has enough time, but patience is a gift that we all need to give during this season. When we take the time to listen and appreciates the lives and concerns of others, we enrich our own lives and expand the circle of connections that make us truly human.
I always look forward to the holidays because it is a time of renewal and new paths to be taken. Conversations seem harder to have in our constantly-connected world of smartphones and tablets, but we cannot give up trying because there will come a holiday season when the person you wanted to talk to is no longer there. That conversation with them might have been the missing piece in your circle of life.
I always take the risk during the holidays that the phone call I make could be one that warms someone's heart and brightens my day. I am rarely disappointed.