By:  Ryan Burke

After receiving an overwhelming amount of generous gifts this holiday season, I couldn’t help but count my blessings. I’ve spent the entire Holiday season giving, reflecting on my year, and thanking many for their contribution in my life. As I observed others generously give and receive, I realized that I wasn’t the only one counting my blessings. Coming to this realization redefined the “Christmas Spirit” into something meaningful.

I used to think that the “Christmas Spirit” was about decorations, presents, and cookies. That the spirit was defined by the amount of tangible things that define Christmas. But after this year, I realized that the “Christmas Spirit” was defined by the intangibles: generosity, selflessness, and gratitude to name a few.

After redefining the “Christmas Spirit” I’ve been challenged. I’ve had to compare my priorities during the holidays to my priorities at other times of the year. Typically I prioritize my life around items that directly affect me, such as my job or academic career. During the holidays, I’ve prioritized my life around service and giving. I’ve been making an effort to be present in other’s lives. Instead of spending my time on less important, selfish items, I’m filling my time being of service to others.

This comparison has challenged my integrity. I aspire to be a generous, selfless person, but why do I need a holiday season to motivate me to live that way? As the Christmas season is behind me, I’m making an effort to continue giving and be of service to others. After all, it’s only when my behaviors are in alignment with my values am I truly happy.

I’d like to share this challenge with our community. Why should the “Christmas Spirit” end now that the holidays are over? During the holidays, our community has shown extraordinary generosity. What would happen if we continue demonstrating spontaneous acts of kindness? Or express our sincere gratitude for each other? I’d like to think that joy wouldn’t come around once a year.