In the last few days before the annual Christmas break we spent much time working with, and for, others. "Who are we working with today, Chef?", my students would ask me.
They never asked what they would get out of it.
Just two days before the holiday began we hosted some of our school's students from the Independent Living Program.
That was Thursday before the holidays.
On the Friday my chef students came in and we just sat around and chatted and drank coffee ... they have worked hard every single day since September, and it was time to just 'chillax'. so we watched a few Jamie Oliver videos, an Epic Chef video and bade our farewells.
A few of them were asking me just before the class went out, "Chef, what do you think I can give people this year? I don't have much money."
I said to my students "Look, most of you don't have much money. Some of you don't have a job yet. If you want to make your family and friends simply happy and delighted, offer them your time and talent. You are all good young cooks. Go and cook for your family and friends. Invite your friends over for a sit-down dinner party! Amaze them with your skills. It does not need to cost much, and your gift of time is more valuable than anything you can buy someone with money. Give your family and friends YOU! And you'll find you have a great appreciation of others, and the time that they have to give you. It will make you more human. The more you empty yourself out by giving, the less you will actually need to receive to feel filled-up and greatly appreciated. Give more, need less. Good luck. Happy Christmas. Away you go."
In about 3 minutes, and a few hugs later, the kitchen was quiet and the lights were all out except the little ones twinkling on our counter-top tree, reflected in the old stainless steel cupboards and countertops, bringing back memories of years of wonderful students. A little twinkle for each student, each memory, each hard-earned success.
Yes, dear friends, there IS a Santa Claus. You and me.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to each of you.