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Growing up it was all about the stuff; piles of present and mountains of toys that rarely held our interest for more than a few days. The thrill was tearing into them and seeing them pile up.

As a teenager, and then as an adult, the expectation to create that experience for others rose, but it seemed as if finances were always tight. I spent years feeling awful at the holidays because I couldn’t spend as much as I really wanted on everyone, and no matter how much I did spend, it never felt like enough. It was all about consumerism.

Over the last several years though, something’s been changing in me. First, we gave up the house in 2005 because we couldn’t make the payments, and I realized that it was just a building. Home could be created where ever we lived. Then we had to get rid of the cars for the same reason, and in 2007 I found myself driving an old beater. I finally recognized that I wasn’t what I drove, how I looked, or what other’s saw. In 2008 we came to the point when we couldn’t buy food, let alone “stuff,” and had to ask for assistance. I began to see that there are things far more valuable than my pride.

When I finally left my unhappy marriage behind almost a year ago now, I discovered that the self-worth I’d been trying to buy myself for all those years already existed within.

This year, when I was asked what I wanted for Christmas, it wasn’t any kind of “stuff” that came to mind, and I realized how far I’ve come. It took loosing everything to realize just how much I truly have and how blessed I am. All I want now is to share this feeling of richness with others and see them smile. To me, that is an amazing gift.

Happy Holidays! May it be full of memories you can cherish for a lifetime.