“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
It has crossed my mind yet again this Christmas season how lucky the children of my generation were; before smartphones, Alexa, Siri, email, and all the other myriad of devices that separate us from one another. They can all be great, of course, but for every check mark in the plus column there is the certain knowledge that we are losing the human connection that has always been a hallmark of our society.
My mother loved the holiday season and she transferred that love to me, Every overachieving, detail-oriented gesture I now possess came from watching her do Christmas. Mom was an amazing “gifter”. She always seemed to know the perfect gift and it was always delivered in wrapping and ribbon as spectacular as could be. But the gifting was not her real legacy; it was what she created with her efforts.
I never heard my mother claim she was too busy; she baked, shopped, wrote letters, decorated not only our house but my grandmother’s, and topped it off hosting the neighborhood for a cocktail party on Christmas afternoon. She worked herself to the bone, by choice, and I know sometimes she set her own bar quite high. However, she never uttered a negative word. When she visited an elderly friend she behaved as if she had all the time in the world to catch up. When I wanted to help her bake cookies she let me though she could have finished the task in half the time without me. On a shelf near our front door there were always five or six small wrapped packages, generic, but there because she believed no one should come to the house and not feel as if they were expected, even if they weren’t, and above all to make them feel welcome.
You see, she got it. She knew to tell someone how busy she was when she arrived for a visit was the same as telling them, ‘I’m here because I have to be, not because I want to be.’ She floated through the Christmas season assuring everyone knew they mattered, that they were treasured, whether family or friends. She was as busy as everyone else, but she kept it to herself.
Of course, the world has changed and it is not my suggestion that everyone put pressure on themselves to do more than they are able; this is not about becoming the next Christmas wunderkind. In fact, it is not singularly about Christmas. But I ask you to consider the wisdom of Ms. Angelou’s words; ‘they will remember how you made them feel’.
The time to let people know what they mean to you is now. It has little impact after you’re gone. Whether you share a gift, your wisdom, your time, or your heart…be all in. Each of us has the power to be a positive in another’s life and it can take as little or as much time as you have to spend. It will never, however, happen electronically or with your face in your phone. We are steadily losing the largest power we have available to us; the power of human connection. I hope you can use your power this holiday season and throughout the year, to ensure someone remembers how wonderful you made them feel. Merry Christmas!