Thomas F. O'Neill
A group of teachers from the Suzhou International Foreign Language School where I teach here in China. Went out on Thanksgiving Day and enjoyed a traditional thanksgiving meal at a very popular restaurant here called Ollie’s. That really brought out the holiday spirit and the food was extremely delicious.
The next day I explained to my students the history of Thanksgiving Day in America. I found it quite humorous that most of my students never tasted turkey, but they always tell me they heard that turkey, “is quite yummy.”
I like to tell my students that I am one of those people who simply enjoys the sharing and to give thanks for the special people in my life. That truly makes this time of year special for me especially here in Suzhou, China.
I surely have plenty to be thankful for because throughout my life people have gone out of their way to be kind to me and the people here in Suzhou are no exception.
I once told my students in class when you care for others you are cared for and when you love others you are loved. This special season of giving should reveal our love for one another through kindness because loving kindness gives this special season its true meaning.
Here, like in America, parents and children alike take great joy in Santa’s arrival on Christmas Day. I also enjoy seeing the young children’s faces light up at the sight of Santa the jolly old soul.
There was a time though when I felt the season of giving was simply a common courtesy in order to receive and provide our significant others with material gifts.
I now understand more clearly that this special season is for heartfelt acts of gratitude for having people in our lives. When keeping the true spirit of giving close to our heart it enables us to give from the heart all year-round.
The yuletide season should be a time when our love comes to call because that love gives this time of year its true meaning.
I have found over the years, though, that it’s not the material gifts that count in life but rather it’s the unrecognized, undetected and unremembered acts of loving kindness that are our greatest gifts and achievements in life.
If we truly want to see a world of loving and joyous people we must be loving and joyous toward the people in our own lives. That potential is part of our humanity. When we reach out and touch others we touch part of the humanity that is within us. When we enhance the life of another in need we in turn enhance our own lives.
Objects gift-wrapped in shiny paper can be forgotten over time but kindness whispered to those in need will echo endlessly throughout the community. Those small acts of kindness resonate with the giver and the receiver because they are gifts from the heart. Such priceless gifts can never be measured monetarily though because how can you put a price on love?
From my heart to yours, I would like to wish all of you a very merry and joyous holiday season.
Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
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