At long last.. new post coming ~ ” Reflections”.

As many of you know, I have been on sabbatical  from work for some time.

Due in part to a lengthy recuperation from walking pneumonia – (a complication of the nasty flu I had in November that left me completely breathless and weak after a mere walk up a slight incline) – this break from most things stressful has been incredibly beneficial to not only my health, but my perspective on politics. (Nothing like not being able to breathe to give you a good dose of perspective! )

In all honesty, it was long overdue. The year has been long and fruitful, however my health had already taken a turn that was more serious beyond the pneumonia and I ignored the need to take care of ME for far too long. No worries, life is good, but it was a reality check that needed to be heeded.

Hence, the coming post, “Reflections”, in which I look at not only the current state of political affairs, but life, children, my new puppy and the future of this great land.

All in one. But in the meantime, I invite you to take a moment and re-read a post of Christmas past that has left an impact on people around the world,far and wide. One from the archives,to get into the spirit of Christmas…

“A gift from the heart.”

Posted on December 3, 2010 by

As an adult, I think I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the festive lights, the excitement of seeing my children enjoy the holidays, get-togethers and all the cooking…but I  really, really hate the commercialization, obligation and fake sentiment that also seems to have come to accompany the entire season. How did we, as a society, become so shallow and self-absorbed that what is for some, a very sacred time of year, has been reduced to how much you spend on gifts to prove your love or affection ? And what kind of gift is one given out of a feeling of forced obligation, rather than the spirit of love and generosity? Not one I want.

 Save your cash, if obligation drives your gift.

For me, gift giving has never been about how much the gift costs, but about what is special to the person receiving it, and the intent of the person giving it.  I would like to share a story with you that will always hold a very special place in my heart, and I hope, yours.

One Christmas in particular, I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a gift that came from the heart of someone I must have known – but someone whose identity still remains a mystery over 10 years later.

It was  two years before I left my abusive ex-husband, and money was very tight. At the time he wasn’t working and I was the only income earner, and my credit cards were getting maxed out trying to keep the family afloat. I didn’t share how bad things were with anyone at work , or my friends, but those who cared obviously could see how hard I was trying to keep it all together.

 Looking  back at photos taken that year, the stress shows clearly on my face in every one. As most parents do, or have done, I often went without to make sure my children had what they needed, but that year I was actually gluing the soles back onto my  Zellers winter boots, and doubling up sweaters instead of buying a winter coat  to make sure Santa arrived Christmas morning.

And he did.

Christmas arrived that year, on a cold Saturday morning, and the kids were not disappointed. They were playing with their presents when I finally moved around the house to open the curtains to a new day, and as I pulled back the drapes on my dining room window, I saw a basket on the railing of the patio fence outside.

Totally surprised, I grabbed my house coat and ran outside. There before me, nestled in the snow on the railing,was a brightly decorated basket with my name on it.

I looked around, but could see no one. It had not been there long, because it remained untouched by the sparkling  diamond frost that covered every surface, and I could see fresh foot prints in my garden leading to the fence. In puzzled excitement, I ran back inside the house to see what it was, and who it was from.

I sat down alone at the dining room table,the noise of happy children dulled in my surprised ears, slowly taking in the lovely wrapping and ribbons.

As I pulled back the tissue paper that encased the contents, the sweet smell of  satsuma mandarin orange wafted from the basket, hit my nostrils, and overwhelmed my battered soul.

 Inside the basket were three, jewel like bars of  soap from The Body Shop, in my favorite fragrance. I held each one in my hands as if they were the most precious gems, with tears trickling down my face, wondering who would do such a nice thing for me.I took every single piece of tissue paper out,looking for a clue, but there was no card; only a gift tag with my name written on it in handwriting I did not recognize.

Suddenly overwhelmed by the sheer grace of this most cherished gift, I ran outside again and looked around in the snow, thinking another card must have fallen off. Who would leave a gift with no name of the receipient ?

I followed the footprints back to the curb where someone had obviously gotten back into their car, but nothing. No clues, no names, only me – standing there alone Christmas morning on the sidewalk in front of my house, oblivious to the curious stares of passers-by, in my natty old house coat and glued up boots, tears streaming down my face … happier in that cold moment than I had been in many, many years.

When I returned to work later that week, I asked everyone if they were my secret Santa, but no one knew anything. From beneath lowered lids, I surreptitiously watched everyone go by my office for a look, a smile, something to indicate someone was keeping a secret from me… but nothing.

 To this day, I have no idea who was thinking of me in such a thoughtful way that Christmas. 

That one gift meant so much to me because I would never have spent money on something as frivolous as mandarin scented soaps for myself, and it helped me through what was a very tough time in my life. Just knowing that there was someone who cared enough to pay attention to something I had perhaps mentioned casually in conversation over coffee, someone who then took the time to  actually bring it over, personally, on an early Christmas morning… it left me with faith. 

Faith. Not an easy gift to give a sometime cynic like myself.

 It was an incredible act of selflessness and compassion on the part of the secret Santa…

 I didn’t use that soap for a long time, but kept it in my drawers.

When I was feeling hopeless, or having a particularly rough time with my ex, I would steal away upstairs – just for a moment – and sit on the edge of my bed to open the drawers furtively where the soap was safely hidden.

There,the fragrance of  satsuma mandarin would suddenly rise to envelop me ,flooding all my senses and it would always,always, give me strength and hope to go on.

To them, it was just nice soap, but to me… it was everything.


The scent remains my favorite to this day, symbolizing the will to go on, survival… and whenever I come across that scent again,even for the briefest moment, it again overwhelms my soul with joy. I still don’t spend money on things like that, although I suppose I could.I guess old habits die-hard.

And so as we enter the season that has become so commercialized that we forget the true meaning behind the celebrations,I urge you to re-connect with your loved ones,your neighbours, and complete strangers, in the true spirit of  compassion and love. Forget about all the expectations of expensive gifts and costly parties, and show your love in another way.

Host a holiday potluck where everyone brings a dish that has particular significance among their family,and ask them to share that memory with all.

Toast the traditions of  our older generations that perhaps did not have the basic luxuries so many of us do, that we often take for granted.

Play secret Santa and give a gift from the heart – anonymously- to someone whom you know could really use it.

Everyone knows a person who is going through a rough time for one reason or another. Maybe they lost their job, maybe they are caring for a sick family member, or maybe they are just always struggling to get ahead. Christmas can be incredibly hard for those who are dealing with life’s troubles. Do something special for them,keep it secret and supply them with the same faith and hope and memories that I have. It doesn’t have to be costly, just from the heart. You  may never know what a simple gesture may mean to someone else.

But I do…


Peace everyone.

7 Comments on “At long last.. new post coming ~ ” Reflections”.

  1. excellent piece, laila. Very touching and appropriate. I’m glad you never found out who the Secret Santa was… may have diminished the magic of the memory, rather than enhance it as it seems to have.

    From me and mine to you and yours, Merry Christmas.


  2. I wondered what happened to your prolific blog, and I’m glad your on the mend.
    As for Christmas giving, I donate to organizations that care for those of us who are less fortunate. The Salvation Army and the Union Gospel Mission are couple of charities worthy of consideration.

    Merry Christmas!

  3. I remember this story. Still works…a tear falls, uninterupted down my cheek…thanks Laila, so glad you are on the mend. Love, Kim

  4. Very well done and so glad you’re mending. Great to get you’re email!
    Last year I quit Christmas for this very reason Laila. This year I am starting over and hoping I am leading by example. Thank-you so much for the validation.

  5. Lovely post Laila.

    Mothers always tend to put themselves last, and I know that’s what you do. After you put your children to bed, you burn the midnight oil to keep up with everything, you can’t get done during the day.

    I had the same illness you have. I was put into an induced coma, and woke up in I.C.U. two weeks later, on life support. I can’t express enough to tell you, how serious your illness is. What happens to Mom’s children, when she is too sick to take care of them? You ignore yourself Laila. It will take you a very long time to fully recuperate. Mom has to take care of Mom, so she can take care of her kids.

    You also put in countless hours in, for research on behalf of the BC citizens. Thank you so much for that.

    A wonderful x-mas for you and your family Laila.

    • So wonderful to be back for brief moments! I have only been keeping up with what is essential and enjoying the holiday season and everything it brings!

      Julie,I am taking good care of myself now,and keeping my immune system nourished with a vitamin regime and rest. But I do find even now I still get tired easily and so although I try and follow whats going on here and there,it has been more beneficial to stay out of all of it. Thank you for the kind words and Merry Christmas to you and yours dear!

      Cheryl,hey, that’s what friends are for…lol.. this story always warms my heart at Christmas and keeps it real for me, and since I first shared it, for others as well. I’m still not playing the emotional blackmail Christmas game with those that like to enforce ” musts” and their expectations on me or my family. Life is too short and so why would we spend it dealing with the crap others like to thrust at us?

      Candi, thank you for this, and good on you for being true to yourself and finding clarity at this time of the year. Look to the light,inside and around you,and let the bad,the negative, the emotionally blackmailing around you fall away. Good things can only result.Bless you and yours this Christmas and may you have many years ahead of you to enjoy what you find precious in this holiday.

      Kim, me too. Every year I think I know who it was, but not knowing is so much better. And if perchance they are reading this now, I want them to know how that one gesture humbles and guides me to this day. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

      rmaharg, I’m never gone for long, but it was absolutely essential, this absence. The Union Gospel in New West close to the housing agency I worked for was amazing all year round and we worked with them all the time. Great charity. Merry Christmas my friend, merry christmas.

      Brad,I agree I am glad I never really found out, although in my heart I think I know who it was. Makes my heart twinge to think of it now, still. All the best to you too Brad, and those who you love, and love you well. May you find many more Christmas memories with all of them.