Christmas Morning 2008...
I woke up with the biggest joy a child could have. My legs that have not yet grown to reach the edge of my bed kicked my blankets off. My heart felt like it was jumping. Because today was the best day ever and everything my little heart wanted.
I turned to my then six year old sister who was still sleeping by my side. “Wake up,” I whispered gently touching her. Her small eyes fluttered opened and looked wide at me. “It’s morning already?” she asked.
“It is,” I replied not able to contain my excitement. Days of anticipation have finally ended. This is it.
“The gifts will be downstairs, in the Christmas sock. Come let’s go see!” I exclaimed. I watched my sister’s face light up as she remembered the gifts we waited so long for.
At such an innocent time in our lives, nothing filled our hearts more than secret gifts left for us by the Christmas sock, the anticipation of what we’d get and a whole day spent playing together with our new toys.
We got off our bed and walked out of our room. We reached the edge of the top of the stairs. We were about the walk downstairs when I held my sister back.
“Wait, I have an idea,” I said.
“Why don’t we close our eyes all the way till we get to the sock downstairs? That way, the gifts will stay a surprise for longer,”
“But what if we fall?” my sister asked innocently.
I smiled. “Don’t worry. We’ll hold hands. And we’ll count each step we take so we can walk together and not fall.”
I held out my hands for her. She wrapped her small hands in mine. And we began to walk downstairs with our eyes closed. One step. Two step. Three step. Four step. All the way till we reach the bottom.
We could feel our hearts beating and the joy rushing through us when our little feet touched the cold floor at the end of the stairs. The gifts are so near us. And in a few moments, we’ll get to open our eyes. We’ll get to see our gifts.
“The Christmas sock should be somewhere over this side,” I said directing my sister slightly towards the left. We took smaller steps. Little by little. Until I felt that we should be close enough now.
“Are you ready to open your eyes?” I asked with a big smile.
“Yes!” came my sister’s excited voice.
“Okay, we’ll open our eyes on three counts. 1…2…3…open!”
We opened our eyes. And what we saw lifted our hearts and made us almost want to cry in joy. It was like a dream you always wished for coming true. The Christmas sock was filled with boxes wrapped in gift paper. And there were bigger wrapped boxes around the sock too. My sister and I rushed towards the presents searching each one for our names.
We began unwrapping some. Our eyes becoming wider and wider at the presents underneath each wrapper. There were gifts we’ve always wanted, gifts we never knew of but immediately liked and gifts we were meant to share.
I watched my sister unwrap her gifts, her eyes wide and child-like. I listened to her ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as she marveled over each one. We laughed. We smiled. We played with our new gifts together. And a happiness beyond what I could comprehend overwhelmed me.
It was only during Christmas season in 2020 when I reflected on our memories together that I realized what it was that truly made me happy; what it was that truly woke me up excited for the day.
It was the smile we gave each other as we woke up in the morning, the trust she had in me as she placed her hands in mine, our voices and steps together in sync as we counted our way downstairs, the feelings we shared that were real and deep.
It was her. My sister. Us together. Me and her.
The connection we shared;
My true Christmas gift.
I have this theory;
It’s that we were all made for connection.
And whether we’re aware of it or not we’re all moving towards it in some ways or another. It’s in our nature. And the things we do, the actions we take, the decisions we make moves us and others ultimately towards deeper connection.
We’re all yearning to share our hearts and to draw close, to listen and to be listened to, to laugh and be joyful with someone whether we realize it or not. All that yearning is the call of the human heart helping us seek out and find connection. For connection brings unity, empathy, friendship, strength and love.
In many ways, our connection with each other holds up humanity and even the world.
Connection can be experienced in many ways. It could be through a simple smile a stranger gives you, a laugh you share with your friends over a silly joke or even having your deepest thoughts and feelings be heard or validated by someone close. True connection leaves us feeling joyful and more ourselves than we were before. It gives us this sense of belonging and togetherness with the people and world around us.
It helps us feel noticed and truly seen for who we are.
We all define connection differently. We all desire it differently. We search for it differently too. So perhaps before anything else, we need to ask ourselves two questions: what is connection to us and what makes us feel connected?
What is connection to you?
Is it being able to share how your truest thoughts and feelings? Is it having people who share similar perspectives of the world? Could it be a simple catch up with friends? Maybe it’s feeling comfortable and truly yourself in a conversation?
Is it being able to share laughs and jokes or is it deep conversations? Does it lean more towards the number of people you have relationships with or the depth of each relationship? Does it center around doing a particular activity with someone or around conversations? Perhaps it centers around you sharing something you created or even an experience?
If you could define connection, how would YOU define it?
What makes you feel connected?
In other words, what makes you enjoy an interaction with someone? What activities do you enjoy doing with other people? What do you enjoy talking or sharing about? What does an ideal friendship outing/date look like to you? What kind of support or friendship do you need in this season? What are your communication styles? How do you receive love? (Ooh, check out the love languages quiz if you haven't already!) And how do you express love/care?
Try imagining the last time you experienced connection with someone... What was it about that time that made you feel connected?
May these questions act as prompts that can help you further understand the lens through which you see and experience connection.
Tomorrow, I'll be sharing with you some practical steps we can take to develop deeper connections with the people around us this holiday season. Through first getting to know your self (with the questions above) it'll be more clear to you how you would approach each step based on your way of experiencing connection.
And as you do, know that I'm also taking some time to ask myself these questions. Asking. Pausing. Listening. We all have lots to learn about how we each function as a person. So let's journey together this holiday season, hand in hand.
See you tomorrow!
And have a Happy Christmas Eve everyone! :)
Love you all.