November 27, 2013

Let's Make Merry

{Millie, from that Christmas}

"I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all.
And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone.
Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent.
For this is still the time God chooses." 

— Taylor Caldwell
For the next month or so, this space will change a little. As you may already know, the 3rd Annual chambanachik Christmas Giveaways are just around the corner (December 1!). It's a time of year when I let go of writing just a little (though I'll still post when the mood strikes), and embrace a huge group of guests who come bearing gifts for all of you.

If you've been around chambanachik from the beginnings, you're probably aware that it's not a very 'commercial' blog. While I love the occasional giveaway, I'm not big on product placement or infomercials. What some of you may not know is how just much email bloggers get. It's a mountain. On a daily basis, offers roll into our inboxes from every company under the sun. They want our time. They want our words. They offer us spots on their websites and gifts to review. They praise our writing and describe our influence and shmooze us in every way possible. I usually click delete.

But these giveaways are special to me; most of the prizes are from bloggers I know, or from companies I reached out to instead of finding them jammed in my inbox. More than that, however- they are special because of the place I was in when they started.

That first Christmas for the giveaways was a hard one for me. Among other problems, Sky and I didn't have two pennies to rub together. We ate because we had food stamps and we paid the electric bill with help from an agency downtown. When someone would give us a gift, I felt shame instead of joy, because I didn't know how we could give something back. It was the first Christmas Millie could help unwrapping her presents, and I wanted her to enjoy it. Christmas is so much more than presents, but I have to admit that gifts are part of my love language. The wrapping, the surprise, the joy on a friend's face when they unwrap something special- I love it all. And I started to feel so discouraged.

As anyone knows, feeling down during what is supposed to be the happiest few weeks of the year makes it seem all the more magnified. The lights, the carols, and the scent of sugar cookies swirled around me, but it wasn't sinking in. I felt like I was standing outside the joy, looking in and not knowing how to be a part of it. So when the idea for Christmas giveaways popped into my head late one night, I was so excited.

Because maybe this Christmas is a hard one for you. Maybe it's a lean one like ours was, and you're wondering how you will even buy your spouse or your children a present, let alone all the others. Maybe it's the first one after a divorce, and you're splitting time with your kids when all you want is to have them home those whole two weeks off from school. Maybe a loved one is deployed, or someone is very sick, or you're missing someone who passed away, or your marriage isn't where you want it to be. Those real life, adult problems come come creeping in with no regard for the season.

A giveaway for a necklace or a candle isn't going to mend those things. I know. There will still be troubles, and they will still be out of my reach to fix even though I wish I could. But maybe, if only for a few minutes, they can be a bright spot in your day and help you feel that cheer that can be difficult to find sometimes. A stranger smiling at me on a bad day can go much father than they could know, and I truly hope that these next few weeks can do the same for you in some small way.

Let's pause in our busyness and our aches and everything that distracts us from the joy that's rightfully ours. Let's give thanks for what we do have even if what we don't have feels all consuming at times. Let's remember what the holidays are all about. Let's hold each other up.

And let's make merry together this year.

5 kind comments from you:

Michelle said...

This post made me love the idea of giveaways, and I never thought that would be possible ;) But really. The story behind it all makes even better.

Jen said...

This story is so special and thank you for sharing! Wishing you and your precious family a very happy holiday season!

Fran said...

I never really knew the story behind all of this, I love you, frond <3

Kaylee said...

It was so fun reading the story behind your giveaways! Made me smile!

Jessica Lynn said...

You are so selfless, Erika. Thank you for all your hard work with putting this together.

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