A Christmas Lesson

Joy to the world! Christmas time is here in the city (and the country, and suburbia and every place in between). And with Christmas come cookies, lights, trees, and shopping. Santa and elves and jingle bells. Cold hands, cold noses, cold faces, cold feet. Hot chocolate, eggnog, and peppermint candy canes. We hear Rudolph, The First Noel, and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing played at least once an hour to get us in the holiday spirit. If all that doesn’t simultaneously cheer you and exhaust you, I don’t know what will.
More importantly than the bustle is the chance Christmas gives us to pause from the hecticness of daily life and think about what really matters to us. For me, that precious opportunity directly follows the biannual crisis that is finals. After weeks of writing papers, studying until 3am, and drinking so much liquid energy that I turn into a coffee bean, I usually begin to question the point of it all. Why do I need to know how to use the statistical program R? Will knowledge of twelfth century Spanish poetry help me communicate better with my neighbors? No, probably not. However, this year has taught me some life lessons that I crucially needed to learn, and Christmas is the perfect opportunity for me to remind myself of those. 
One, happy people let their passions shape their decisions. I’ve found that the things I’m most passionate about – Christ, ethically sourced living, and people – have come to define how I choose to spend my time. Without a passion for fighting human trafficking and ensuring that the products I buy are ones that are not made in exploitative conditions, I would never have found CWOW. Working at Creative Women of the World has been one of the most rewarding, challenging, and growth-inducing experiences of my life. When I signed up to intern for the summer, I thought I would be filing papers and sorting emails. How very wrong I was! Every action, every decision at CWOW is made through our living, breathing mission: inspiring creative business and marketing solutions for women around the world seeking to rise out of extreme poverty, human trafficking and disasters. This little (but growing) nonprofit has shown me that my passions, focused into a mission, can slowly but surely become world change.
Secondly, I have learned that passionate people can never work a 9-5 job. There is always more to do, more to practice, more to perfect. Anyone who has ever worked at a nonprofit can tell you about the multiple times they’ve woken up in the middle of the night with a brilliant new idea or spent hours designing a project at home in front of the TV. Despite the never-ending work, I cannot deny that I love it. Being part of something important, something that matters to me, is worth irregular hours. When your life mission coincides with your job’s mission, you are actually taking your home life to work rather than your work life home.

Thirdly, Christmas is about giving to others like God gave Jesus for us, and there is no better way to give than to use your passions to serve others. At school, I am most happy and most myself when I can find purpose in my activities. Whether it’s justifying that Spanish class with the idea that in the future I will be better able to serve a population that does not share my native tongue or learning statistical programming because it will help me conduct research about human trafficking prevention, viewing my daily activities through the lens of my mission motivates me to always try. I have a burning desire to see an end to systematic exploitation of the poor, orphans, and widows. I want to see women rise up, empowered, to become business leaders, politicians, and doctors in countries where they’ve never had the privilege of an education. I hope that people will one day understand that buying ethically sourced products is worth the effort because each dollar spent is yelling “No!” in slavery’s face.  I cannot change the world just because I’d like to, but I can take my passion for these causes and serve the people in my community in small ways. The smallest gifts can have the largest impact. Just look at the aftermath of what God left us in a manger.