Today’s post is the monthly reflection from the December 2003 issue of  The Front Porch Newsletter.  If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.

Christmas PresentsThe Holiday Season often brings a more hectic schedule — but it also brings a message about the little things. As I reflect on the holiday seasons I have most enjoyed, the message of simplicity is the common link. I don’t remember many of the Christmas gifts I received year to year, but I clearly remember all the simple things — the baked cookies, decorating the tree with my family, and sneaking down the hall with my brother in the middle of the night to see if Santa had arrived.

A friend told me a story several Decembers ago that brought home this insight of little things. Not one Christmas has gone by since, that I haven’t reflected back on the personal story he shared.

He had attended a one-week retreat in Southern California. The retreat focused on preparing for Christmas. One day, they took all the retreat participants on a two-part field trip to demonstrate how different people prepare for this Season. The first stop was Rodeo Drive in Hollywood. With all the glitter and glow of a Hollywood Christmas they saw people focused, rushing and buying. What they didn’t see was a single smile. After a couple of hours, they loaded up and headed for their second stop. After a short distance, but a psychological galaxy away, they arrived at a burned out section of Los Angeles that had been the sight of the riots a couple of years earlier. There they saw people helping people — someone serving in a food line, someone helping an older person fix a broken window. And consistently they saw people smiling. I am certain the smile on their face simply reflected the joy in their heart. Simple actions. Little things.

In this Holiday Season, and throughout the New Year, may we rediscover little things. And from their simplicity, may we know the meaning of a smile through the eyes of the people my friend had the privilege to see. It is then that we will once again be blessed by the gift of Christmas.