As the rest of the year fades behind us, we are at the mercy of the holidays.
I know that Christmas isn't what I remember it to be: Back then, my parents would tip-toe about as they placed gifts under the tree while my sister and I were sleeping.
We woke up to some nicely wrapped presents and our cookies half eaten by "Santa". We were so grateful for the toys and clothes we received and looked forward to seeing all of our extended family on Christmas Day.
Charlie Brown's Christmas was on heavy rotation and we answered the door for carolers. Singing along, we stood in our robes and pajamas crammed together in our front door listening to "Silent Night."
Some times, we would go to our church to help with the soup kitchen and the feeling of purpose was alive in my soul. We visited the elderly in the nursing homes.
Christmas never had as much meaning in my life as it did when I was a child.
When I was in college, I worked at a home for mentally disabled men. I was a residential aide so I often cooked for them or drove the house van to take them to work or shop and/or doctor's appointments.
I worked Christmases so that the older employees could be home with their families AND the holiday pay was pretty good.
That night, I had permission to take the men out but they wanted to wait to see if their families would call or visit.
On this cold snowy evening, we sat around the house watching TV and waiting. I became frustrated because no one ever received a phone call or visit from their family who had seemingly forgotten about these innocent souls on Christmas.
After 4 hours, I fired up the company van, scraped off the ice and snow. I then piled all 8 guys in and told them to buckle up.
We drove to my parents house so that we could sit on the floor and watch Christmas movies. We laughed and while they opened up gifts from the dollar store, I realized that this was what Christmas was all about
Nowadays, the entire feel of Christmas has been transformed into a plastic mesh of retail shopping and superficiality.
Parents spend the night in store parking lots to get gifts that their children will grow tired of in a month. The importance of video games and iPads have replaced the importance of sacrifice and charity. The "wants" have overcome being grateful for having all that was ever needed and some.
Christmas has filled our mailboxes with sales ads and "special" offers.
Our hearts have been tainted with the glossy models wearing things that we desire as soon as we turn the page.
The season has become a time of new debt and despair.
People don't remember the widow who is spending Christmas alone this year or the single mom that doesn't have the money to buy her child one special present.
My wish for you this holiday season is that you find it in your heart to look for another way to give the gift of cheer. Whether it be surprising an elderly person on a fixed income with a nice warm coat or getting a toy for a child that would not have received anything at all this year...make it count.
Please feel free to leave your comments in the section below and while you're at it, follow me on Twitter @TheRealJoyRene