Today we went Christmas shopping.
It's the last day of November, one day before the 1st. Advent Sunday, and the city was crowded.
It felt as if everyone was there, trying to spend their Christmas gratifications with a vengeance.
And yet, even though a million people are out and about, I love how relaxed most of them are. Sure, there's the occasional temper tantrum thrown by a kid who didn't get what they wanted (or maybe it was me, seeing a purse that made my heart beat fast).
What I like about Christmas shopping is the leisure, the thoughtfulness of picking things for people I love.
I like the shopping malls with their lights and Christmas decorations (and yes, that's my hubby's cut off arm), and I even like the special shopping bags with Christmas motives.
Being downtown, seeing all the people with their parcels and shopping lists, sitting down to a lovely Thai lunch, I got to thinking.
Do we even realize how blessed and privileged are? Do we take a pause often enough to appreciate what we have?
We sat down to lunch, my hubby and I, our full shopping bags somewhere under the table, and watched the Christmas parade through the window: Santa, the elves, the angels, music, glitter, and lights, children waving, parents watching, and without fear, without any worry.
At the table next to us sat another elderly couple, doing pretty much what we were doing. They were talking about the gifts they'd bought, and those they still wanted to buy, and smiled at the parade.
Blessed. Safe, spoiled, and blessed.
That's what we are. And I want us to stop and think about it for a moment.
Let's count our blessings: we live in the peaceful part of the this world. We have roofs over our heads, we are well-fed, healthy, we have houses or apartments with heating, warm water, light. We have beds! We have TVs and consoles, and computers, and cell phones, and most of us have at least one car.
We are blessed.
We have more than many on this planet will ever own, or even dream of owning.
These weeks before us, the December weeks that lead us to Christmas, will mean stress, impatience, even family drama and discontent to many among us.
Kids will complain because they're not getting the new Playstation 4, the new bike, a car, the iPhone 5s even though it was AT THE TOP OF THEIR LIST.
But there are kids who have never seen a Playstation, who don't even know what that is. Kids who'd be happy to have a better place to sleep than a corner of a refugee tent.
Some will complain about the family, about having to spend Christmas with them, about wanting quiet holidays, and not getting them.
But there are people who are lonely, who will spend their Christmas Eve lonely, wishing for family with all their hearts.
We are blessed.
We don't have to live in Syria and dread bombs and poison gas.
We are blessed, we don't have to sleep in gutters and beg for food.
I feel blessed. I'm grateful for having my family, my job, my cozy home. I'm grateful for my friends, for the love in my life, for the security and comfort.
It's Christmas time. It's the time when, even in the turmoil of shopping, cooking and baking, we should take that moment and step back from our busy lives, and realize: we are blessed.