The greatest gift this Christmas

This is my first Christmas away from the snowy skies of Finland. Here in Korea people apparently buy a cream cake from a bakery, but luckily, I was able to get a bunch of gingerbread cookies from our trip to Ikea. While I have been drinking Christmas tea and listening to appropriate playlists, being away from home has been an opportunity to think about what the greatest gift of them all for me is, not only on this Christmas but in life. When I was five years old, I wanted the newest Bratz doll. Now, as a 22-year-old, it is something of different nature.

When we leave this Earth, we won’t remember that time when toilet paper got stuck in our shoes in front of our crush. We won't remember whether we had that shirt in multiple colors, or how many likes we got on Instagram. This seems rather obvious nowadays, but it is still easy to forget what doesn't matter in our lives and what really does. Sometimes the continuous stream of entertainment and opinions makes it impossible to pinpoint what it is exactly what we enjoy, love, and cherish the most in life. When I notice myself slipping into focusing on the wrong things, I picture myself in my rocking chair as a 100-year-old, thinking back of the fullest times in my life.

What I see are my friends. I see my family. I see all the times I chose to be courageous, all the times I chose not to listen to the insecurities making me unhappy. I see the times we did something out of the ordinary or helped someone. I see the forest, the waters, and the seasons. I see that the perfection we sometimes chase as twenty-something-year-olds was never attainable or desirable. I see that during Christmas time, what I wanted the most was to be present for my loved ones, for other beings, united by music, gratitude and shared memories.

Christmas is the time to listen a little more than talk, to appreciate the present more than think about the next thing we want. I see that the purpose of my Christmas or life was never to be perfect, or to achieve more, or to gain something. The purpose had always been becoming my incomplete, imperfect self, always willing to learn more. And finally, realizing the worth of giving instead of getting. To be a sun to someone else, like they had been to me.

The greatest gift of them all may not be the same for everyone. The world is full of people with different goals and desires, and for many, it is not possible to do this exercise of picturing the future, as they may be struggling to find food on their table for tonight. It is no use to compare endlessly or fight about who should be grateful and who should not. However, doing the good we are able to do in life, even in the smallest ways, is something. And doing something is always better than doing nothing. Thus, if through being kind and loving towards ourselves, too, makes it easier for us to do something valuable in the world… Let’s start today.

And perhaps this Christmas, we can refrain from buying things we do not really need, for it is a kind act towards our wellness and the environment. Maybe this Christmas we can resist the urge to examine and wonder if our belly got bigger over the holidays, for we have always been enough. I imagine the 100-year-old me would rather use her energy to marvel; “Oh, that was the first Christmas I spent away from home… Although I missed home quite terribly, I felt grateful, as there was magic in the bustling city holidays out there. And it made me appreciate the cozy and silent night back home all the more…”