This brief, true story is brought to you as an offering for the holy days. Whether we celebrate Kwanzaa, Chanukah, Christmas, Solstice, Pancha Ganapati, Festivus, all the aforementioned, something else or nothing, let us embrace peace, truth and compassion for ourself and others—during this season and always.

At 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday Dec. 22nd, a grandmother of five searched for an equitable exit from tradition. A plain-clothed woman who did not resemble a rebel in any fashion, her eyes shone the heart of a woman at a widow’s walk, awaiting peace like her captain.

I empathized with her. Having tended to my perception of others for half a century and now free from custom and obligation, I know the challenge and potential in crossing that bridge.

The Grand Mother’s eyes drew my soul like an outgoing tide as her words implored, “How do I cancel Christmas? I don’t want to go shopping tomorrow, and I don’t want to let anybody down.”

“So you doubt whether it’s a good idea to go shopping, and you doubt if you can make your family happy if you don’t go shopping?” I asked.

“Hahaha, yes,” she said.

“Well you’re in luck, because doubt can point you towards a real diamond.” I said.

“How is that? I don’t feel bright or sparkly right now.”

I asked, “What do you want to feel at Christmastime?”

She thought for three seconds and said, “Joy. Peace. Excitement!”

“And what do you want your children and grandchildren to feel?” I asked.

“The same!” she replied.

“Yay,” I exclaimed. “That can happen for each of you with a change or two. Based on what you said, joy, peace and excitement doesn’t happen when you think about or go shopping, right?”

“Right!” she said.

“So the question is, ‘How can you give yourself the gift of experiencing true joy, peace and excitement?’ When you allow this, your joyful, peaceful, excited example shows your grandchildren how they too, can be joyful, peaceful and excited. That’s a great gift for everyone!”

“I love your expressions,” she said. “They say it all! Now it’s my job to figure it out.”

And with a wide smile I said, “If I can do it, so can you!”

Always with love,