And let the month begin.
I remember as a youth, always anticipating the arrival of August, my birthday was almost here. Another year celebrated, another year closer to being grown. There were no big elaborate parties, no celebrations in fancy restaurants, no over abundance of expensive gifts. A cake and a recognition of the day, but it was enough. It was enough. It was in a sense, your own special day, where you felt as royalty, even without the trappings. I will admit here, that when my son came along, we did often go overboard in the gifts. As we did at Christmas. They were never overly expensive, but abundant. To the point he couldn’t appreciate them all. Only once though, when he was five did we throw a big party and invite lots of kids. With his birthday in a cold month it was indoor, that broke us from doing that again. Afterwards it was small family events.
Now, as another birthday draws close, I am far from my youth, but not yet geriatric. There are no expected nor desired big celebrations planned or anticipated. Material things I don’t need. Few that I desire but that can wait. Life and living has taught and continues to teach me as I journey. Things are an encumbrance, they weight you down and put your focus on earthly things. I’m not talking about things like a home or transportation. Nor am I talking about basic clothing or food. Those are necessities. I’m thinking of the things that are not essential.
If I could ask for a gift, I would ask, that we would all be able to see and understand the difference between the essential and the nonessential. That we would focus more on the giving and less on the receiving. That we would see the things that life is bringing to us as lessons of growth. That we could learn, to be content of heart. That isn’t to say to not dream and hope. To not work toward a goal. We all have a purpose, the plans you have may play a large part in that purpose. To do better, to be better, to strive toward things that will provide better for you and your family are not wrong. Just don’t become so drive and focused that you lose track of the importance of that family. That in your journey, you lose track of those whom you pass every day, who you could acknowledge with a kind word, a cup of coffee, some act to recognize their humanity.
If I could ask for a gift, it would be that we understand, the desire for things, more things, bigger things, more expensive things, is not what should drive us. The material things don’t last. The pewter things I mentioned, sit in the other room gathering dust. Many of the books gathering dust. Unused for the most part, but another symbol of some status or other. What good are they doing me or anyone?
What is essential? What gift would be good to not only receive, but to give? The ability to know the difference and to act upon and live with that understanding. To not always go into a store or online desiring more things that may go unused, or are simply a sign of being a have among the have not. No, again, I’m not saying that things are bad. I’m saying too much of things are. I’m saying that when we can, we should do what we are able, to see the needs and act on the needs of others. Online there are many sites that are hand me up pages. Free sites to offer the things that are collecting dust that someone else desperately needs. From clothing, to furniture to food. Why store something, why let food expire, when there is someone out there, who would be grateful to have those things?
What is essential in your life? What drives you? What, in your life, drives you too much, and yet, isn’t really essential in living?
I’ll admit, that I’ve come a long way. Once I loved the gift of things. Especially flowers. I have learned, that I get almost as much enjoyment out of seeing them along the way, and don’t have to have a yard filled. I have learned, the difference in needed and wanted. I have learned, and continue to learn how to be content with less. No, I’m not doing without anything needed just the fluff.
I have learned, that my faith, my belief, my trust in God, is the essential part of my life and needs. From there, I derive my peace and comfort. I am learning, to put off the childish things.