Know Yourself

Be The Light This Holiday Season

During the holiday season, I hear two phrases more than any other:

“I love this time of year!”

and

“I hate this time of year.”

Both perspectives are valid.

Normally, I fall into the camp of people who love the holiday season. The holidays represent a time for loving, giving, and family.

This holiday season, I’ve had a particularly hard time staying positive, which isn’t common for me. The reason? In the words of that famous South Park song: “Blame Canada.”

For those of you who don’t know, I’m working through logistical paperwork issues with Immigration Canada. “Issues” is a kind word for the bureaucratic maze I’ve encountered.

Basically, working on renewing my visitor’s permit has caused me to be stranded in Canada. If I leave Canada, then the process to get me back into Canada will take up to two years.

As most of you know, I now have a large team in Calgary. Leaving them for as long as two years would cause problems for my business — which affects my ability to take care of my family, specifically, my daughter — but also affects my responsibilities to the families of my employees, partners, and clients.

Compared to some of the turmoil and unrest in the world, my being “stuck” in Canada is relatively small potatoes. But, this being the holidays, and me missing my daughter, well – you know what I mean.

And no – my daughter couldn’t visit me here, either. My daughter’s mother was unable to arrange to bring Savannah up to Canada – a country that’s home to white Christmases year after year – for this holiday season.

My daughter is the love of my life, and being without her this holiday season has been heartbreaking.

So, to say this holiday season has been tough, even bleak, is a bit of an understatement.

Andrea Reindl will tell you I’ve been fighting hard to stay positive. And I have. Last week, my mother sent me poinsettias, which remind me of my Christmases growing up in Utah. They represent a special abundance of love for me – you see, I come from a large family – I’m one of eight children – and we had very little material possessions growing up.

At Christmastime, we often ended up making gifts for each other, as we lacked the money to buy Christmas presents.

We never expected to get what we wanted for Christmas — we simply didn’t have the money — but what we had was greater then any present. We had each other, just like Jim and Della, that impoverished couple from O’ Henry’s great story, “The Gift of the Magi.” They sell their most prized possessions (Della’s hair, Jim’s gold watch) to surprise each other for Christmas, only to find that the other has bought a gift that, well – you remember. Jim bought Della combs for her hair, and Della bought Jim a watch chain. But what they learned was – they had each other, and that their love was the greatest gift they could ever receive.

Anyway, my family, like many other families at Christmas, was one that was steeped in traditions. And each year, I looked forward to them.

For us, this meant that each child would make a holiday treat for the family (I always made divinity candy: yum!). We’d all go caroling among our friends and neighbors (bringing our treats to them) and, no matter how poor we were, we always found a way to be a Secret Santa for a family that was even more needy than we were.

In this cynical age, you’d be surprised to hear that our families and friends always eagerly awaited our caroling each season — probably because my mother had a beautiful singing voice. The poinsettias she sent me this year made me think back to those times of joy amid privation, and reminded me of “Christmas Dinner,” a song my mother sang, that was made famous by the trio Peter, Paul & Mary.

I’m not known for being soft and emotional, but my heart has always had a special place for this song. Its last line is, “But in that town the happiest Christmas was held by candlelight”.

When I remembered the song, I myself went to YouTube, watched it, and broke down sobbing. Yes: I’m a holiday sentimentalist like everyone else.

It made me realize that while I am unable to be with my daughter this Christmas, others around the world always have it worse. My daughter is grateful, smart, and loving – and I am so thankful for that. And we live in an age where technology allows video chats – and I’m blessed with the capability to use that technology and chat with my daughter all day Christmas. I can stay connected with her that way this year.

Much of December I’ve been in a state of darkness, and I have understood and even appreciated why many people don’t like the holiday season. But the song “Christmas Dinner” reminded me that it only takes one candle to light up the darkness.

How I made the following connection, I don’t know, but reggae great Bob Marley, also talked about lighting the darkness. His story is truly inspirational. Bob believed that racism and hatred were a virus that could be cured by music and love. But more then that, he really believed that he, one person alone, would be enough to light up the darkness. Check out this powerful scene from I am Legend, where Will Smith’s character gives the more complete story about Bob’s courageous stand to light up the darkness two days after he was shot.

After watching the video, my mind went back once again to my youth and to my mother singing “Christmas Dinner.”  We knew that song, and all the others, from Peter, Paul and Mary’s holiday album, which we played constantly during the festive season. One of my favorite songs from it is “Light One Candle,” and after watching the scene from I am Legend, my mind wandered back to this song. It reminds me that it is my responsibility to light one candle this holiday season and to believe that if I can use my light to brighten even one person’s life, then I’ve done my part to light up the darkness. Maybe I do love the holidays, after all. Even this year.

So, this holiday season, make sure that you light one candle. Become the flicker of hope, love, and service that lights up the darkness.

Michael R. Drew

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=605605636 Kyle McNeil

    Best post of the month on BTC. Thanks for setting a great lead Michael!!

    Yes, let’s light up the darkness.

    The scene from “I AM Legend” was moving too. Worth watching for sure.

    PS – this morning as I wrote “Missing Someone This Christmas? You Don’t Need to Hide Real” – you were in my thoughts. Ironic how we steered a similar course.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      Thank you, really, better then Selling the Dream (http://www.beneaththecover.com/2010/12/01/selling-the-dream/)

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=605605636 Kyle McNeil

        Selling the Dream was great. In my opinion you shared deeper in this one. Selling the Dream was about business (and very transparent), but this post was about your daughter, Christmas memories – and parts of you.

        So this one nudges out selling the dream, as best post of the month.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

          Fair enough…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      Kyle,

      Tell us about how you lit up this holiday season.

      Michael

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=605605636 Kyle McNeil

        Spending time at home with my mom and brother. Making that a number one priority, and then being at my brother’s side for his surgery this past week. Family is #1, and I feel as close to my mom and brother as ever before.

        As tough as 2010 was, it ended on a positive note.

        I’ve felt myself, “putting myself aside more”, or in other words “dropping my ego”, and it’s doing a ton for creating amazing experiences and outcomes. I think also, the stacking of the courses I’ve taken in the last 2 years and the ongoing learning, is REALLY paying off.

        Hope this answers your question :)

        How about you — would you like to share?

        I heard about a Santa Claus appearance pre Christmas, lol ;)

  • Samantha

    Beautiful post today Michael. The NTJ made me weep! ;-P
    And I sincerely hope that makes you laugh and warms your heart! :-)

    Thanks for sharing your heart. I hope you will be reunited with your daughter very soon.

    ~Samantha

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      Your welcome, its my pleasure, I hope my story will inspire others to light up the darkness.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jenncockton Jennifer Palmer Cockton

    Michael this is Beautiful!
    My Daughter will not have both of her parents with her on Christmas Day for the first time in her little life. This breaks my Heart. It is so hard to accept that circumstances can divide us from the ones we love the most- on the days that we want to share with them the most.
    I feel what you are going through in all of this.
    God Bless You for the Sacrifice you have made for others.
    May it return to you a million times over.
    Merry Christmas! Jenn

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      I feel your pain, I wish you and your family all the love and joy in the world this Holiday Season.

  • http://www.socialmediaheaven.com Lindsay Wilson

    LOVE it. Brilliantly you. Thank you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      Thank you, keep shining your light through social media and allowing others to be he heard and seen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaimemintun Jaime Mintun

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. You are such a light Michael and your videos had me crying!! Thank you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      Jaime,

      Thank you for your kind words, and for being a light to women.

      Let your light shine.

      Michael R. Drew

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      My dear friend how was your holiday season? Tell us about how you lit up the season.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574169127 Lee Horbachewski

    Michael, as always you have such an eloquent and brilliant way of sharing your thoughts and wisdom. Having gone through the immigration process myself I know the frustration, add to that the pain of not being to see your daughter – I can’t imagine being without my daughters over the holidays.

    Your referenece to your treasured memories through beautiful videos have brought me such peace and joy. I Am Legend is such an incredible movie, Will Smith is an inspirational person and actor and shares the brilliance of Bob Marley so passionately.

    A friend sent me a card recently ‎”Be a Torch. Be a Spark. Be a Candle in the Dark.” this inspired a #TorchTuesday tag for me on twitter – recognizing the people who bring a spark and light into my life and the lives of others. The International Association for Suicide Prevention used the “Light A Candle” theme for World Suicide Prevention Day encouraging people to light a candle at 8om in support of suicide prevention, lost ones and survivors of suicide.

    I never go a day without lighting a candle, as I was researching for the meaning of a flame I came across what Jesus said ‘I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark, he will have the light of life.’ (John 8:12, Jerusalem Bible)

    What if… instead of “anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark” we were to say….
    “I am the light of the world; creating a flicker of hope, love and service, and lighting up the darkness.”

    Thank YOU xox

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      Love it, thank you for your wonderful feedback.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      Lee,

      Would love for you to share with us how you lit up the world this holiday season.

      Michael

  • Janette Wittwer

    Michael,

    Thank you for sharing from your heart. Like you there are a few missing from my Christmas and I know how that leaves a huge hole. My former partner, RIP Terry, his daughter, his family and some others.

    Yet, magically it is perfect as I am so lucky to be able to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my 21 year old son.

    I am in Calgary, so please let me know how I may light up your life?

    Hugs,
    Janette

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      Janette,

      Thank you for sharing your loss.

      I’m so glad to hear you’ll be spending time with your son.

      Make sure to light up the darkness this holiday season by sharing your light.

      Michael R. Drew

  • Benjamin Heward

    Thank You for sharing!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      My pleasure.

  • Rich Christiansen

    Michael, thanks so much for sharing this personal story. It is much appreciated. I think we all need the hope that Christmas brings and you articulated this perfectly. Wishing you a very merry Christmas. Rich

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      Thank you!

  • Kari

    Insightful and inspiring post Michael. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: Every thorn has its rose. May your Canadian Christmas be Merry and magical in it’s own special way!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      It was Merry, I hope yours was as well.

  • Lehi

    I’ll light a candle to that.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      For Savannah or me? :)

  • Miles

    Thanks for sharing this Michael ! I have a relative who just lost their daughter to cancer recently age 19
    For them I am just speechless , my heart hurts just imaging what they are going through .
    I was so impressed by everything you do , your presentation is amazing
    you are the light that will light many candles and from that the darkness will disappear

    Merry Christmas to you and your family
    thanks again
    Miles

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      Miles,

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      I hope you were able to share your light this holiday season.

      Would love to hear how you did.

      Michael R. Drew

  • Jacquelne

    Hey Michael,

    Like a sunbeam in the darkest hour…the flicker of desire does allow our true self shine We absolutely need to do all we can not to let that light go out!

    Putting myself in your shoes…I can feel the weight of sadness swelling from the lump in my throat to the depth of my soul…straight down to the feet that hold my standing being. Feeling what you are going through…I would simply collapse into a puddle of tears.

    I love your candor, and this very revealing post. I can’t help but think positive thoughts like you wrapped tightly around your precious baby…maybe not on Saturday…but very soon!

    May we all shine light on what we want to see, then move in the direction of our mose cherished dreams.

    I think you are truly remarkable!

    Merry Christmas Michael!

    Smiles,
    Jacque

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      Jacquelne,

      Thank you for your wonderful words of hope.

      I hope you were able to share your light with many this holiday season.

      Thanks again,

      Michael R. Drew
      Promote A Book Inc.

  • Michael Kenyon

    Michael –

    These moments allow ourselves to find our definition, and redefine ourselves. I keep finding myself pared down a little more, at that place of redefinition. Each time I choose to try and be a blessing to others; in your words, to be the light. I have found that someone with nothing still has much to give.

    Your touching account reminds me that others stand in difficult moments as well. Missing Christmas with your daughter is sad; it is something you will not forget. Yet like an alchemist, you are trying to transform that sadness into an energy so that you can be the light for someone else; which is something they and you will not forget. To my mind, you have found your noble aspect, and you are strengthening that quality.

    Thank you for sharing your heart. After reading the many comments your post inspired, I am reminded once again that when we share our heart, it brings out the best in others. Which shows just how far the light you hold has spread.

    I will be thinking of you this Christmas, Michael, as I too will be away from my children. I will see them soon, though, and cherish them just a bit more. May you soon have your family in your arms again -

    wishing you the gifts of your dreams,

    Michael Kenyon

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      Michael,

      Thank you for your kind words, I do appreciate them.

      Savannah and I spent much of Christmas on the phone and skype.

      Thank you for helping to spread the message and for lighting up the darkness.

      Michael R. Drew
      Promote A Book Inc.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Drew/1168497746 Daniel Drew

    Mike

    You should tell them all the other things our family did. Being a poor family we sure did understand Christmas.

    We tried to act as we thought Christ would!

    What Mike didn’t say, as adults those of us still in Utah, still carry on these traditions to this day! Because Mike hasn’t lived in Utah for some time he hasn’t been able to participate, but he should be happy some traditions don’t stop.

    Watching the I am Legend clip about Bob Marley, and then watching our government over come more discrimination by eliminating Don’t Ask Don’t Tell brought tears of joy to my eyes. Where we finally stopped another level of discrimination in our nation. And what a more appropriate time of year, than at Christmas time! Where we celebrate the birth and life of the prince of peace, the prince of love, even our Savior Jesus.

    Finally to end with don’t let the light go out. The light of love, justice, and peace. From a young age Mike and I had a level of justice that this song envisions. And to us that is what Christmas is!

    Love

    Danny

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      True enough, you certainly do, and I’d continue them as well if I were in Utah, or with Savannah this Christmas

  • Jenn Cockton

    Your post inspired me to write one of my own that was more open and from my heart than I have ever shared before. Lit a candle tonight!
    Jenn

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      Why don’t you share your link with us here.

  • Matthew Lutz

    I was literally having similar “home-sick holidays” blues over the last couple of days as well.

    I haven’t been back home for the holidays in about 4 years, and feel like a lot of the holiday traditions I knew and loved are slipping away.

    And while I probably won’t go back home every year for the holidays, for the years I don’t in the future, I’ve vowed to start some new traditions here in California with my new family and friends (I guess none of those will include anything to do with snow, but I’ll figure something out.)

    Anyhow, thanks for putting things into perspective for me Michael.

    Happy Holidays to you man.

    Matt

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      Matt,

      Truly my pleasure.

      I miss my family, especially my daughter, but I’m grateful for the love and support they and you my friends shared with me this tough holiday season.

      Michael

  • Beate

    Lovely Michqel, thank you for sharing. Your daughter Savannah is lucky to have such a sentimental and caring dad. From experience I can tell you that they KNOW in their hearts how much you love and care irrespective of the circumstance.
    Here is to many more holidays where you can physically be with your little girl. And btw she’ll be your little girl forever.
    Beate

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      I love my little girl, and I know she loves me. Her comment to me this Christmas was “I have the best daddy ever” and it melted my heart…

  • http://www.joannalynnexpress.com Joanna Lynn

    I lived in the Northwest Territories for a year (Inuvik, literally the end of the road before the Arctic Ocean). I learned that the Inuit would traditionally use the time of 24-hour darkness for gathering, teaching, reflecting and learning–it was a very spiritual time. I found living through it, the darkness had a feeling of cocooning that was comforting and a great time for introspection, even if it didn’t feel so good sometimes. :) I also found that even though it’s snowy and cold outside, that fire is always burning in the inside…it seems you’ve found yours too. I think we give ourselves these experiences to stop and listen, because we need this time of quietness to reboot for the constant activity of 24-hour daylight.

    Thank you for sharing yourself.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=605605636 Kyle McNeil

      Joanna – great reply. There is something about the “darkness” that only makes us brighter when we are in the light. Something about contrast. I’ve not been to Inuvik, but do know where it is!

      Thanks for sharing.

      Amazing!

      • http://www.joannalynnexpress.com Joanna Lynn

        Thanks Kyle. Hey, if you know where Inuvik actually is, I’m impressed!

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=605605636 Kyle McNeil

          Yes, b/c half the Promote A Book team (me included) lives in Canada – Inuvik is familiar to me.

          Thank goodness for geography class ;)

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

        You can’t own anything until you lose everything- Tyler Durdin Fight Club

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

      This holiday season has certainly been a wonderful time of introspection for me, I’m certain is was needed, though painful.

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  • Bethmisner

    Mike, I hear the longing and pain in your heart. I like how you are modeling how to hold the tension of the hurt and the joy in each moment. That is the key to making it through tough times like the one you are now going through. Your post resonated with me this year as I was back in Texas with my dad’s family due to the fact that my aunt made her transition into the next life on the 22nd. I missed my husband and kids and the rest of my California family so much, but it was the first time for me to be with my Texas family at this time of year. Thank you for pointing out that there can be a gift in the tough times, too. And many blessings to you and your daughter in 2011.

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