December.  We began with a plan to post a technical article about risk management considerations: market risk, goal risk, liquidity risk; how an investor might balance each of these through their investing career – truly fun stuff.  December, though, calls for something a little different.

We know December as the month of giving. We tell our children that Christmas isn’t so much about the presents under the tree, but rather it is about how we can give to others through thoughtful gifts and acts of kindness. To be sure, this message is important.

Maybe, though, we should spend a little time pondering the other side of the giving coin. Maybe it is OK to think a little bit more about receiving this holiday season.

Think back to the hardest times you have faced. Maybe you faced this challenge at home or at work.  Perhaps you lost a loved one…. or lost your job…. or were cheated out of something that you earned or deserved.  When you take yourself back to the most painful moments, who was with you?  Who walked alongside you…who carried you?

The community that has walked along side our family is too large to list.  But the people that come to my mind have served us selflessly… from yardwork to donated plane tickets to nightly meals to messages of encouragement and prayers when we needed it most.  December offers our family the reality that we cannot do life alone. And doesn’t that capture the essence of Christmas and the holiday season? We cannot do it alone, so a child was born.

Giving brings smiles and good feelings and warm hearts.

Receiving though…. receiving brings life to the lifeless. It heals our wounded hearts. Receiving fills us with gratitude. Gratitude cultivates in us a desire to be kind to others and being kind to others relieves our unhappiness which in turn increases the happiness of those around us. When we open ourselves to receive the gifts of others, our lives will never be the same.

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