It’s not all about you

December 15, 2014

This time of year can be joyous and magical in so many ways. But, it can be difficult, too.

“It’s not all about you,” a grandfather said to his granddaughter one day, after arriving to his son’s birthday party with a fresh bucket of broasted chicken from a local grocery mart.

“We just ate,” said the granddaughter, who had eaten lunch, and cake, and ice cream.

But the grandfather had traveled more than an hour to be part of the birthday party. He was hungry, and he had brought a special gift to share. “It’s not all about you,” the grandfather said, “I’m hungry.”

The granddaughter had thought only of herself and what she wanted. Or in this case, what she didn’t want. She had not thought about her grandfather and his journey; his being hungry; or the gift of joy that comes from sharing what you are able to with others.

The granddaughter went into the cabin and came out with some paper plates. While her father, grandfather, and the others at the birthday party enjoyed a piece of freshly broasted chicken from the local grocery mart, the granddaughter smiled. And she never forgot: “It’s not all about you.”

Throughout the year it is easy to recognize what each of us wants and needs and desires for ourselves. It is not always easy to recognize what someone else wants, needs or desires. When a friend cannot come to the Christmas gathering, or a stranger takes extra cookies from the free coffee and cookie table, or a nephew shows up only with an entree and no presents, take a moment to put yourself in another’s shoes.

Perhaps it is not that the friend didn’t care about your gathering or that she had better things to do, but that the gathering came during the anniversary of her grandfather passing and she was missing him more than usual. Perhaps it is not that the stranger is being greedy or taking advantage of the coffee and cookies being free, but that the coffee and cookies will be the only meal today and he is unsure where the next meal will come from. Perhaps it is not that your nephew forgot to purchase gifts or didn’t want to participate in the White Elephant Exchange, but that he spent his last dollars on gas to get to the party and considered his gift the entree that he was able to bring.

Heartaches, lack of money and life challenges do not disappear because it is the holidays, and because it is the holidays we should be especially gentle and kind knowing that each person is doing what they are able; that each person is doing what is right for them at this particular moment.

A thought-provoking quote from Dr. Steve Maraboli to consider: “Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

This Christmas season and in the upcoming year let’s remember “It’s not all about you.” Let’s take a moment to put ourselves in another’s shoes. And not judge. And not assume we know. And let’s cherish the gifts others have to share.

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