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Posted by on Dec 4, 2013 in Elevate, Empower, Family, Inspiration | 0 comments

Christmas is a Four Letter Word

Christmas is a Four Letter Word

by Anne Riley, Author

This is a short article. I am making it short because I know you are busy.  It’s the crazy season and I know that despite your best intentions, your to-do list is already at least a mile long. And so, a few brief words of encouragement as you enter the fray of another whirlwind Christmas season.

As I approach the holidays every year I always grapple with the question. ‘What is the most important thing about Christmas?’ As you well know, it’s not just a religious holiday; it’s a cultural event. It is endowed with enormous significance. Many of us remember more than one Christmas morning from our childhood. Why is that? After all, Christmas is just another day. Yet this one day, and the season that surrounds it, is especially important. Why?

As a minimalist, I like to break ideas down to their fundamental parts.  I think, when all is said and done, that Christmas is about giving.  We give gifts, we give parties, we give big dinners. And underlying all of these activities, embedded in every single gift we give or receive is the greatest gift of all.


Time, I have come to realize, is the only gift any of us really have to give.  It is the one thing completely and utterly in our control, even though we don’t always feel that way.

We are born with all of the time we will ever have wrapped up inside of us like the potential energy of a spring. Only it doesn’t spring out of us. It unwinds at the very same pace for each and every one of us. Time is a ball of string, wadded up tight. Every day, the ball unwinds, rhythmically, methodically, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour. From the minute we are born, the clock starts ticking.  As we go along, we trade in our time to create this thing we call life. We dole out snippets to work, to eat, to play, to sleep.

The thing about time is that it is so ubiquitous, so ever-present and plodding, that we can’t help but take it for granted. We spend time. We waste time.  We see time fly. We let time get away from us. Often we forget that we alone have the power to choose how to unwind our own personal ball of string.  Yet it is these very choices that define who we are, that define our life.

I think the most important thing about this most important of holidays, is how we spend our time. Our tendency of course is to jam as much activity into the season as possible with the hope that quantity will overwhelm quality.  And sometimes the only thing that gets overwhelmed is us!

Have you ever read the saying that encourages us to live each day as if it were our last?  This is an admirable call not to take time for granted, but I never much cared for it.  I try to imagine how I would react if I knew today was the last day of my life. Personally, I would freak out. I can see myself frantically trying to fit every single important part of my life into a space of twenty-four hours. Maybe it’s just me, but along with that heavy knowledge of my impending demise, regret and sorrow and frustration would be my companions on that last day.

Perhaps the opposite approach is better. Maybe we should live life as if we were going to live forever.  As if our ball of string were infinite.  Not so that we can lie around and do nothing, but so that we can take each meaningful aspect of our life and spend as much time as we want on it.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could take as long as we wanted to do the things that are really important to us? To relish them, to soak up every facet of them as if they were valuable gems, knowing that tomorrow there would still be an infinite amount of time to spend on other important aspects of our lives?  To me, that seems like a good way to live.

And that is what I wish for you this holiday season.

This holiday season, amidst the presents and the parties, amidst the food and the frenzy, amidst the trees and the tension, I hope that you live your life as if it were infinite. I hope that you give the greatest gift you have, the gift of time, to the things and the people that are most important to you. That you create special moments with those people, that you savor and enjoy them and remember them for years to come.

And when it comes time to receive gifts, I hope that you receive the most precious gift of all from the ones you love.  Time.  Time that you savor and enjoy and that you will remember for years to come.

Now, go. Off to your lists and your parties and your decorations and your presents.  Savor every precious moment of them. And when you are older and grayer and slower than you are now, my hope is that you will remember them.  And you will understand then, that these moments, these precious snippets of time that have cemented themselves in your memory, they are the greatest gift of all.

Merry Christmas!

{Editor’s Note: Anne Riley, Author of Elusive Little Sucker,  is a Featured Contributor for Women Who RISE. You can read more of Anne’s work, and learn more about this tenacious author, on her website,}