Empty Space In Our Living Room

Posted by Joao Perre on Sep 17, 2018
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[In a recent conversation about ripples, I was reminded of this story from my childhood.]

One of my favorite moments when I was a kid was Christmas, and especially the Christmas tree. :)

I always had a special interest -- I don't know why -- but I loved Christmas trees, and I would do anything to build Christmas trees at home.



When I was about 10 or 12, my mother -- who is a very, very special person -- posed a challenge that at the time I found very difficult. She said, "This year, instead of decorating a Christmas tree at home, we will provide and decorate a tree for a family in our neighborhood."

We were aware of that there were two or three families in our neighborhood that would never be able to build a Christmas tree. But as a kid who loved Christmas trees, :) I became so angry with my mother.

"How could she do that?" I wondered. It was like my favorite candy. I just loved having a Christmas tree.

Now, reflecting back on this experience (that happened more than 30 years ago!), I see that this very small act, which I thought was nothing at the time, actually completely changed my life.

When we went to gift our first Christmas tree, we went to the house of an elderly man. He was maybe around 90 years old, and he couldn't really move about at all.

To get started, we brought the tree and we brought all the decorations. As we began decorating the tree, I looked at this neighbor's face. Just from seeing the response in his face, I began to understand two things: what Christmas was all about, and how such a small act can be so powerful. I mean, it was really nothing much to do this on our end. We spent probably about 45 minutes in this person's home decorating this tree, but it was probably the happiest Christmas for him in decades.

That year, at home, we had no Christmas tree.

I could see the empty space in the living room where the tree would have been. But it was not empty, actually. It felt pretty full. :)

It was the best Christmas ever of my life.

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Comments (1)

  • Yoo-Mi Lee wrote ...

    Beautiful reflection from your childhood, Joao!