I love the holidays, because it's the time of the year when we all think about others.
We have no choice.
Even the crabbiest among us has to stop and think about somebody else, because with every gift, we have to ponder what that person really needs, wants, or loves.
It's automatic unselfishness.
That's why I never view gift-giving as commercial. Every harried shopper at the mall just wants to make somebody else happy.
And in so doing, they make themselves happy.
How great is that?
Giving really is getting, and if you want to prove it, watch somebody you love open a gift.
Avoid giving fruitcake.
Or if money is short, give your time. Do somebody a favor. Carry in the groceries. Take out the trash.
I think that real, profound happiness comes only when you stop thinking about yourself. When you raise your sights, and let your thoughts drift skyward. When you stop focusing on mundane things like how you'll get the cranberry sauce on time or whether you have enough gift cards. When you finally let yourself experience the gratitude, happiness, and peace that wreathe the very air.
This can be an opportunity for reflection, with the old year ending and a new one beginning, the past becoming the future before our very eyes, seamlessly, smooth as a sip of eggnog.
I can never have just one, can you?
Even in troubling times, we can take a few moments to peel back the layers of the everyday and come to understand and appreciate what really matters in life - family and friends.
I'm so grateful for all of you, and Daughter Francesca feels the same way.
We've been so thrilled to meet many of you on tour for our new book, and to hear from even more of you via e-mail. As you may know, the book is about the mother-daughter relationship, and many of you have been so open in sharing the joys and bumps of your own mother-daughter relationships, and mother-son relationships, too. Fathers have written to us about their daughters, and vice versa, because love covers all the possible permutations, and is all the same, anyway.
We're all best friends and occasional enemies, aren't we?
Just as love transcends blood ties, it pays no heed to time or space, much less mere geography. So many people can't be with those they love during the holidays because they're overseas at war, serving all of us, and to them, we are most grateful.
They, and their families, are the most unselfish of all.
Others are merely too far away to visit, like Mother Mary and Brother Frank. They won't leave South Beach in December, and who can blame them? She hates the snow, and he hates anyplace you can't wear a muscle shirt.
Many of you have lost those you love, and feel it more acutely at this time of year. My heart goes out to every one of you, and Francesca and I aren't immune to that pain, either. But we take comfort in knowing that our love for those missing from our holiday tables never ends.
It abides, warmly and palpably.
It can make us smile, even now.
Human beings have hearts for such a reason. You may forget your car keys, but you will never forget your mother's smile.
Memories like those are stored in the soul.
And so Francesca and I can recall, at any given moment, what my late father Frank would say about something, or even the silly faces he would make at dinner. For example, when he wanted a second helping, he simply lifted his plate, pointed at the serving dish, and grunted.
It was cuter than it sounds.
But it was really cute.
We used to tease him about it, and he'd laugh, because he was the world's most easygoing person. Nothing really got to him, and I rarely saw him angry. He was a placid, contented man, in a mellow holiday spirit all year round.
Perhaps there's a lesson in that, for his daughter, eh?
I'm Type A, and my father was Type B.
Come to think of it, he was even calmer, like Type C.
Maybe that's Type C, for Christmas?
Lesson learned, Dad.
Happy holidays, and love, to all.