It's the holiday season and the air is crisp, the auburn leaves have fallen, our hearts and stomachs are filled with pumpkin, and this mixed cloud of joy and anxiety. We stress about the family dinners we have to prep for and what gifts to give; however, the idea of giving thanks has become skewed over the years. We associate holidays with getting the latest technologies, money from family members, and people proving how much they love you through tangible items. But what if I told you, none of this means a thing? What if I told you what every person truly wants, is not the material aspects of the holiday, but the comfort of being surrounded by family and friends. Let us try to simply sit back and enjoy these moments. Say thank you. Say thank you to every person you encounter and make others smile this holiday season.
As a sophomore at the University of Delaware, the distance from my family and friends has made me recognize what to be thankful for. I long for the chaos of my Nana's kitchen, the hugs from my little brother, and the endless belly laughs with my best friends. You know, the kind of laughs where you are trying tirelessly to catch your breath? Those laughs, those moments, with those people. My "home team". A series of people who bring more joy into my life than the next. I am ridiculously fortunate. Fortunate to have a college education and have the time apart to recognize what is truly important in life; to take a moment and observe just how thankful I should be. I have seen a shift in myself since I started at this university fall of 2017. I have been through countless ups and downs for all of which have taught me lessons. It has not all been pretty but has allowed for my heart to find the things I have been longing for. Finding my passions, one of those being giving back.
I volunteer each week, visiting an elderly couple in the area of Newark. They are completely alone. Their family members have parted to different parts of the country and they no longer have the overwhelming holidays filled with belly laughs. Just a quiet, tame holiday season. The visits are intended to help out the wife Dot, who has lost her memory to chronic illness. Her husband Bob has been putting in so much effort to rehabilitate her memory. Bob's strength is inspiring, as he continues to fight for the woman he loves most in this world. These visits weekly have opened up my eyes. Dot's memory may be faded, but I've found that what chronic illness cannot take away is her love and gratitude for her husband. The tender jokes they have with one another and the beautiful story of how they met when they were only kids, once like me. Those memories are forever etched in the corner of her mind. Want to know what she doesn't remember? The material aspects of life's seasons. She does not remember the jewelry gifted or how much people have spent on her, only the joy of her family throughout the years. Those are the memories that remain constant because those memories are meaningful. Sure, sometimes Dot's memory gets the best of her and she has her on and off days. She does not always remember me when I walk through the door, but every time I remind her of my name she smiles with this infectious smile and always says, " We appreciate your help, we love having you here. Thank you." She continuously thanks me. Then I realized, what I am doing week by week is making a impact. That I too, am a little memory etched in that beautiful mind of hers. Thank you Dot! You are giving more to me than I am to you!
I have learned life is not all about the glitz and the glam of the holiday. Lets just embrace one another this holiday season and become in touch with what is truly meaningful! Thank you my home team for all those uncontrollable belly laughs, the hugs and comfort of home. Thank you for creating my safe place of solitude. Thank you to the beautiful fall air for reminding me that every day, I am alive and here in the present moment. Thank you to the journey the universe has so uniquely mapped out for me leading me through all those ups and downs. Thank you Dot for curing my bad days with your infectious smile. So to everyone during these beautiful months of giving; when life becomes hectic and you're stressing over the material aspects of the holiday just remember to stop and say "Thank you" to everyone you love.