I am trying to do my part. When I texted a friend last week to set up a coffee date she replied back that she was ill. I could have replied with a "feel better soon" message, but that seemed impersonal. My intuition kicked in and I followed up with a "that sucks" message. Because that message is real and it opened the door for her to be real with me. I ended up going to her house with some magic wonton soup and I sat and visited with her for a couple of hours. Yes I was busy and had things to do, like we all do. But I stopped and made the time. What I found was the gift to me was greater than the gift of my time. I saw her start to feel better. We had some real conversations and it was perfect.
Yesterday I caught up with a friend who is going through a divorce and she told me how hard it is to not receive Christmas cards. Her ex is living in their house and he receives all the cards. It made her sad until a friend told her that she should send her own cards out this year. She worried that she didn't have professional pictures. But it doesn't matter. People are going to know that she is doing ok and that means something when you are ending a marriage.
I think this year I am more sensitive than ever to the gift of time as my husband went through a job loss when his position was eliminated after working at the same place for 22 years. Our world was rocked but we quickly learned what we were both made of. We didn't have a pity party. We worked hard together to figure out our next path in life. I gave up working as an attorney to raise our boys when we first had children. I put my career on hold for his. His job loss was not only a rejection of him, but a rejection of me. We were in this together.
The advice that I had given to friends in the past came back to me as I started to give myself the advice. My favorite piece of advice was "don't let this experience make you bitter, but let it make you better." My husband and I focused on the positives. We found we were often cheering people up when they heard the news. We didn't want people to be sad, we wanted them to rejoice in our ability to find a new adventure. Once people understood our mindset, they started cheering for us too.
My husband is now at his new company but we took 10 weeks of together time and really learned what our marriage was made of. I would post pictures of us on Facebook with the hashtag 24/7 because for the most part we were together the entire time. We took a trip to look at the leaves on the east coast and we did some major home projects. We did things we knew we wouldn't have done if he had been working. My husband began wanting to go back to a job where he used just his brain as we quickly realized that our bodies were not made for construction projects! That time we spent together was a gift that I will cherish forever. Now I see him for a few hours a day and I miss him but thankful that he is working. Now we make an effort to meet for lunch several times a week to keep that gift of time going.
So as this holiday season goes into full speed, I ask that you take some time and give it to a friend or family member. You don't need to wrap it. You don't have to worry about purchasing the perfect clutter free gift, as that hour or two is the perfect gift. And if that person is far away, there is this great thing called Skype or FaceTime that I have found is just about as good as the real thing. Take some time to have real conversations. Because you just never know what a few kind words can do. Pick up that phone. If you are waiting and wanting someone to call you, start to make the effort yourself. Start a movement of giving the gift of time.
To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,