The Gifts That We Give

My dear friends (I consider anyone who reads my blog regularly to be a dear friend),

This last week, because of Christmas and something that came up in therapy, I have been thinking a lot about you and the tremendous gift you have given me this past year.  You may not have even been aware that you were giving me a gift, but you were (and are).  I will explain, but you know by now that brevity is not my strong suit, so please bare with me.

The other night I was watching Man of La Mancha, one of my favorite movies and I was reminded why I love it so (besides the music).  One of the themes of the movie is very similar to a theme in one of my favorite books, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  Yes, A Little Princess, is a children’s book.  To explain the similarity and what I adore about them, I would like to begin with A Little Princess.

This book is about a young girl named Sara Crewe.  As the story begins her father takes her to a boarding school, which apparently was common for the time period.  She is a very rich, pampered little girl, but still very sweet.  During her time at the boarding school word arrives that her father has died leaving her an orphan (her mother had died sometime previous) and penniless.  The boarding school, afraid of what the public might think if they put her out on the street, agrees to keep her on as a maid.  All her beautiful clothes and belongings are taken away and she is left with one black dress that does not fit well.  She continues to be a sweet, well-mannered child which is one of the things I love…her character. After some time has passed, she is dirty, her clothes are torn.  One day as she is on the street running an errand for the boarding school a young boy sees her and decides that he wants to give some money to “the beggar girl”.  Afterwards the boy’s sister chastizes him saying, “That girl may be poor, but she is not a beggar.”  Somehow in the interaction between Sara and the young boy, this other girl could see something in Sara.  Was it the way she behaved, the way she held herself, something in her eyes?  The book does not say, but the point is the girl could see beyond Sara’s outward appearance, to the beautiful person within.

In Man of La Mancha, we have Don Quixote, who is delusional, but in the most adorable way.  He embarks on a quest, and while on his journey encounters Aldonza.  Aldonza is, how do I put this?  Basically she is a bar maid/waitress and reluctant prostitute.  I say reluctant, because I don’t think she has much choice in the matter, she can take the money or not, but the rest is out of her control.  Don Quixote sees her and immediately falls in love.  He refuses to call her Aldonza, because it is a common name, apparently fitting of her current position in life.  Instead he choses to rename her, Dulcinea, which he feels in a much more fitting name for a lady such as she.  The world sees a prostitute, but Don Quixote sees something more, something beautiful inside of her.

Both stories portray characters (Sara and Aldonza) who going through tremendous difficulty, and the people who are able to see beyond that to the beauty within.  THAT is what I feel you, my readers and friends, do for me.  In this blog, I share some of my deep pain and difficulties, and yet you don’t shy away from it.  You are still here reading and supporting me through this journey.  I like to think that like these stories that I love, you can see something in me besides this tremendous burden that I currently carry.  And because I believe you can see it, it helps me to try and find it in myself.

I am reminded of another favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.  When difficult circumstances brought George Bailey to the lowest point of his life, he was given the gift to see what the world would have been like without him.  He was able to see all the lives that he had touched, many without even realizing it.  And the other lives that were touched because of the people that he helped.   The ripples of his life and kindness to others were huge.  Can you see the George Bailey in yourself?  I imagine that you did not know that reading my blog would mean so much to me (but it really does), how many other lives have you touched without realizing it?

You continue to read my blog because beyond the pain you see something in me, that is your gift to me.  I, in turn, see the “George Bailey” in you, and that is my gift to you.  Merry Christmas!

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