December 23, 2008

'Tis the Season to Reflect, Share, and Listen

We are a few days away from Christmas and are undoubtedly being reminded about the joys of giving.

But what if you don't have much to give?

What if this year money has been more than tight—it has been nearly non existent? What if emotionally you have been so drained that most days you would like to just sit home and cry? What if the merriment of the season leaves you feeling disillusioned and excluded?

Then don't give.

We are told it is better to give than to receive and now is the time to put aside all selfishness and give to everyone you love and to the less fortunate. But it isn't that easy and for many people it never has been. Poverty doesn't take a holiday. The recession didn't go away on vacation. We are still struggling.

Instead, reflect and open up.

Openness is a gift in and of itself. It takes a great deal of our personal strength to open up to others and to listen to others. Too many of us are raised to value the suppression of negative emotions—to be happy all the time and always moving forward never addressing what is eating us up.

And we spend so much time just trying to get by that we don't allow ourselves to reflect on what is wrong and what needs to be changed.

So during this time of giving, let the guard down, reflect, share and listen. Reflect with your family about what this year has been like; listen to the stories of loved ones and those in need; talk about the possibilities for the next year. When we reflect, share, and listen we validate ourselves, each other, and create a stronger community—a goal worth striving for all year round.

This post was written by Allison Jones, a development and communications professional in New York City and volunteer blogger with the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project. She is a writer, advocate, and educator focusing on empowering young people to change the world. Please leave your comments or email ajlovesya [at]

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