Orange Lessons

(I thought I should let everyone know that fall is finally here. It is the middle of November, and the weather is simply perfect. The trees are still wearing their fall colors, and the earth is not as barren as I remember it should be during this time of the year. This makes me particularly happy.)

I have been dwelling on Christmas lately, not because I love the holiday, but because we need to make travel arrangements and such. Do not take me for a Scrooge, I love Christmas. I love what it stands for; I love the feelings of warmth and family that are bound to creep into my heart; I love having a special time of year to celebrate my Savior and the love that he stands for. But let me quite frank with you; I HATE the holidays. I hate the idea of giving simply because that is what is expected of you. I hate dreaming up a list of things that I do not need, but suddenly cannot live without because it is Christmas. I hate the stupid decorations that stores plaster their window arrangements with. The whole ordeal is simply horrific. Normal, not-crazy humans become store-ravaging, sleep-deprived, stress-laden monsters who cannot get enough of the “stuff” that comes along with Christmas. Whatever happened to simplicity? Whatever happened to the Holidays being a time of joy and of family? How can one have joy when he/she is stressed beyond belief over the ordeal of buying presents?

When I was a child, I used to get an orange in the bottom of my stocking, and I hated it. I got one every year, and every year I still disliked oranges. I could not understand why my parents would waste such a large portion of the stocking (which could be filled with candy) by stuffing it with an orange that would simply end up back in the refrigerator from whence it came. Then, one evening my mom told me the real reason for the orange at the bottom of my stocking.

A long time ago, people did not have the world at their fingertips. (Imagine: isolation, solitude, reflection, peace….such lost words and ideals in our crazed society) There were no grocery stores; therefore, there was no one to sell oranges. Oranges did not grow in the winter, so they were simply unavailable, EXTREMELY hard to come by, and expensive. Parents would buy oranges because their children needed vitamin C, and because it was a taste of summer during the dreary months of winter. Parents purchased oranges to give their child at Christmas because it was a luxury they would get only once a winter.

Imagine being grateful for an orange on Christmas morning. Imagine.

I began to love that orange. I would treasure the idea of simplicity that it carried along throughout that Christmas morning. This Christmas season (though it is not quite here yet), I have taken an oath of simplicity. I will be grateful for each and every moment with my family. I will treasure each meal we share together, each moment of solitude around a tree or fire, and every time of joy. I will not stress over gifts that will not last, but I will labor to be joyful. I will share my joy with others, and I will not be cross because I did not get that “thing” that I never needed anyway.


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