By: Dr. Phyllis Bivins-Hudson/Najla Alexander
December is an excellent time of the year. It has many benefits that we can look at and say Wow! For instance:
- December signals the end of another year—It is a blessing to say you have completed another 12-month journey, another calendar year, something many of our loved ones, friends, and associates were unable to do. So be thankful that you are still in the running! I feel blessed to say that I am not only in that number, but God willing, I will celebrate another birthday on the 26th of this month.
- December is a time for sharing—Giving to those who may have done something special for you at a time when you least expected it, or to those who may have gone the extra mile to ensure your comfort, or to those who simply deserve it, makes the act of giving even more powerful. Sharing is caring! Sharing does not mean expecting something in return. For instance, I have several friends to whom I always give special gifts at Christmas time. I do so because I want to make them feel my love for them and let them know they are considered. In all the years we have been friends, I have only received a gift from one of them. And the one who does give me a gift always makes it seem like an afterthought. By that, I mean that the gifts are usually of poor quality, look used, or are not something I would consider for myself. But I accept that the others are not gift-givers and that the one who is a gift-giver doesn’t know how to do so appropriately. And guess what! I am not bothered by that. If I were, I would discontinue the practice. Giving unexpectedly is something I randomly do all the time. I love giving, sharing, caring, and making people feel good.
- December is a time for reflection—If you have lived another calendar year and are reading this, then you have something on which to reflect. Think about all the things that have happened this year, whether they were things that happened to you, for you, or about you—
- Identify what happened to you and what those things were. What were the benefits? What were the challenges? What were your takeaways? Would you like to engage in those practices again?
- Identify what happened for you and name those things one by one, weeding out the chaff and holding onto the wheat. Then look at ways to duplicate the good and let go of the bad. If you can, share the good with someone who can use a little pick-me-up or extra attention.
- Identify what happened that was about you. Did someone surprise you with an unexpected visit, gift, words from the heart, or anything else that was only about you? If so, reflect on that visit—how did it factor into your day? Did it: Make your day? If it was a gift—how did it change or move you? Were you inspired to reciprocate to that person or someone else? If you received words from the heart—were they received in the way they were meant to be received? Was the giver sincere? If so, reflect on those words and allow them to do what their intent was. Then consider passing them on.
Reflection is a powerful means of serious thought or consideration. When we do so, we should expect to be edified somehow. Even if we learn that things did not go exactly as we thought, we must allow that reflection to teach us a lesson. At the very least, it should say, “this is a practice I will no longer continue.”
- December is a time for cleansing—If you have people, places, things, ideas, qualities, etc., in your life that need to be expunged, then December is the time to think about a good cleansing or detoxification. Consider these:
- If you have had a person in your life for 12 months or more and they have shown no sense of loyalty, true friendship, etc., but the relationship has been toxic, then it’s time for you to let that person go.
- By the same token, if you have been frequenting places where things are not what they should be, stop your visits. For instance, if you are a frequent patron of a spa or restaurant or nail salon, etc., and the service always seems to be a little off, to downright rudeness, then cut them off. Move on. You are doing yourself a disservice by patronizing places where you are obviously not wanted, not respected, and not needed for their business to flourish.
- On the other hand, if you have things that need to be adjusted, then adjust them. If there are things that need to be removed because they are bad influences, push them aside. If you must have “things” in your life, replace the “pushed-aside” things with positivity.
- At the same time, we can have unhealthy ideas. If you have some of those ideas and have thought them through yet still find them of particular concern, then think no more—Rid yourself of them! They are weighing you down, and who needs the extra baggage anyway?
- Finally, if there are qualities in your life that help shape who you are as a human being, but you are saddled with people whose behaviors around these qualities shake you to your core—you already know what to do—move past them too! For instance, if someone to whom you are close lacks honesty, empathy, loyalty, or integrity, and these are qualities on which you pride yourself, then keep in mind the adage that says, “Birds of a feather flock together,” which means that even if you do not subscribe to these things, the mere fact that you are keeping company with those who do subscribe to these negative qualities, also means that you run the risk of being identified with them.
- December is a time for preparation—The new year awaits us. Those who like to make our new year’s resolutions can begin thinking about what they will be. December gives us 31 days to think about those resolutions or changes so that we can get in front of the process and be prepared to put those changes in motion when January 1st comes rather than waiting. Sometimes when we wait, we learn that the month has come and gone while we are still contemplating. Use December as your month of contemplation and January as your month of installation!
Finally, I’d like to make you aware of something I frequently do around sharing. Hopefully, you will make this one of your practices as well. It’s a fun idea to pursue. When I engage in this practice, I always begin in January. It involves these steps:
- In December (or sometimes a few months before December), I begin thinking about an unsuspecting person to whom I will become a “secret pal” for an entire year.
- I learn as much as possible about the person, i.e., birthday, anniversaries, favorite colors, places frequented, favorite flower, genre of books, organization affiliations, etc.,, so I am armed with this information when I begin my 12-month journey with the person.
- Then sometime during the month of January, that person will receive an unmarked envelope addressed to them with a typed note (to avoid recognizing my handwriting) introducing the idea that for the next 12 months, they will be hearing from me. I don’t give many details except what I have already stated so that they will begin anticipating hearing from me again and trying to figure out who I might be.
- Either with that initial January note or another designated time during the month of January, I will send them a token. This could be a gift, words to live by, a card, or whatever I see fit for that month. If it happens to be their birthday month, they receive a birthday gift.
- Each month after January, the person hears from me in some form or fashion.
- Then in December, I usually arrange a meeting place where the person and I meet for the BIG REVEAL. At that time, I generally have a Christmas gift, and we talk about the beautiful experience this brought to both of us.
Here are some additional tips:
- Don’t involve others in this process unless you have to because people are not always as diligent as you are with keeping your secret. However, if there is one person who can support you, take advantage of that when you need help doing things or asking questions that you cannot do without revealing yourself.
- When mailing gifts, cards, etc., always do so in various places. If you only use your town or city, the person might figure out who you are. I have even gone so far as to have friends from other states mail gifts to my person to keep up the suspense and the fun.
- To ensure your cards, words, etc., get to the right place, make sure you have the correct address of the person, and in the return address space on the envelope or box, put your secret person’s name there as well.
- Do have fun and enjoy the process! This has brought me many years of fun, excitement, and joy. Remember—I love giving just for the sake of it.
Good luck! Enjoy the season! Remember the reason for it! And keep flying on your own wings…