Reflections on Christmas

Many of my friends really get into Christmas.  They are all about Christmas!!!! CHRISTMAS!!! CHRISTMAS!!!! – I’m much more Christmas- meh.   Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the holiday, I just don’t care that much about it.  I do make the trouble to send Christmas e-mails, and I go to parties if invited.. but… meh.

However last night, Christmas evening, after consuming food and wine with friends, safely cocooned in fuzzy PJ’s and drinking hot chocolate and wondering how long it is going to take to answer the e-mails from my Christmas e-mails – I realized I am one of the lucky ones.

I know the gratitude post is supposed to be on Thanksgiving, but really I just feel so lucky.  I will eat an avocado and tomato salad for lunch. Avocados here  are a luxury – they are very expensive– but I can afford them when I want, and I am very well fed. Something I think we take for granted here. Korea is quite developed and although you do see the homeless at the train station and in certain underground passages, for the most part the country is quite prosperous.  And I am a member of the prosperous set. I’m not rich, and I’m pretty sure the life path I’ve chosen isn’t going to make me rich, but I do well. I have a warm apartment that is quite nice when I clean it up, I have a great job that I enjoy and that pays well enough that I have everything I need and quite a bit of what I want. I don’t have to scrape and scramble to pay my bills.  I have enough.  Not everyone can say these things.

I’m very healthy and can do almost anything I want physically ( I really don’t want to climb the mountain climbing wall that is 5 stories high- really)–ok I can’t do anything I want physically– but the stairs don’t intimidate me, I’m able to walk around town without pain or pick up most things, I’m able to walk up the mountains here- and although the bike club goes a bit faster than I want to I can ride my bike, I can dance the night away without too much of a price the next day, and if I finally quit  smoking I’ll be even healthier. When I do get sick, I can go to the doctor and I can afford the medicine he or she gives me.  This is something I don’t often think of, but it is a blessing.

I have friends to spend the holidays with.   I have people I’ve met on my travels that are with me in spirit and mind even when I am far away, and people to visit and people who visit me on the holidays.  I am not lonely, even when I am alone. I have the luxury of being with people when I want to be with them and be alone when I need that. This is perhaps the greatest gift I’ve been given in my life.

I try to be a good person, I try to “deserve” these gifts, but really if I think about it, so much of what I have is pure luck.  I was lucky to be born to a family that valued education, even if I didn’t when I was young. I was lucky that even though I threw away my first chance at education, I come from a country that allows a second chance at university.  I am lucky that my country has never known war on her soil, that I’ve never had to fear bombs or foreign soldiers in my home.  I’m lucky that my parents were well off, and I’ve never known the fear of hunger or homelessness.  I come from a country that speaks a language other countries value enough to offer me contracts to teach them this language.  I can travel quite freely, both through work and for fun. These are things I had nothing to do with, my goodness or my badness as a human being. I didn’t have to work to get them.

Americans have this “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” myth. We forget you need bootstraps to be able to pull yourself up by them. We forget that a lot of what we have, a lot of who we are, isn’t based on what we’ve earned. It isn’t from our own hard work or our own specialness.  Those that are part of the “haves” are not better than those who are part of the “have-nots”

It is easy to take for granted the things we have.


2 Responses to Reflections on Christmas

  1. hilkman says:

    So true. I had these feelings often during my first daughter’s long hospital spell, which she wouldn’t have survived in most places on earth (or at least I wouldn’t have been able to afford treatment). Happy holidays, everyone – cherish what you have.

    • christinebumgardner says:

      I agree, I just think that we need to remember that we are not more deserving than others, and that we are lucky to have what we have. I’m so glad that you and both your daughters are healthy and happy now. (btw they are both so beautiful)

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