Just show up

This past weekend, my girlfriends and I participated in the Atlanta Santa Speedo Run. This fun run is exactly what it sounds like — a horde of half-naked men and women trekking down Peachtree in Santa hats and sleigh bells and barely-there bathing suits, to raise money for a local nonprofit. In this case, for Kate’s Club, an organization that empowers kids and teens who have lost a parent or sibling.

photo 4After the run, while we all warmed up inside with peppermint schnapps and shots of Fireball, Kate Atwood, the founder of Kate’s Club, said a few words of thanks. Her message stuck with me long after the chill left my bones.

The best gift you can give anyone, she said, is to simply show up. When a child loses a loved one, when a family member loses their job, when a stranger loses their way, to just be there for them, to give of your time and full attention, is a gift more valuable than gold.

It’s a message that’s so easy to forget during the holiday frenzy, when time is scarce and commercials lure us into thinking the ultimate gift is a shiny new car wrapped in a big, red bow. Whipping out your credit card is so much quicker and less painful than sitting down and listening to someone’s tales of woe, but what is the message behind our gift? That Amazon.com is the cure-all for everything that ails us? 

If you have kids, and if your kids are anything like mine, they have a Christmas list as long as their arm. They want jewelry and clothes and books and electronics and skis and guitars. They want a shiny new car wrapped in a big, red bow. 

But at the risk of sounding like the Grinch, they already have enough stuff. This year, I think I’ll take Kate’s advice and give them more of me instead. I’ll schedule time for bottomless pots of tea and linger over long dinners together. I’ll watch movies or ride bikes or hang out at home. I’ll do absolutely nothing, as long as it’s with the people I love. 

photo 1

When a few weeks ago, my girlfriends suggested we don our skivvies and sprint down Peachtree in broad daylight, I thought they were crazy. But my girlfriends asked, and I showed up, and along with a couple hundred other Atlantans, we raised over $100,000 for an amazing cause.

And you know what? I feel like the winner here. 

About Kimberly S. Belle

Kimberly Belle grew up in Eastern Tennessee, in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. A graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, Kimberly lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and has worked in marketing and fundraising for various nonprofits. She's the author of two novels, THE LAST BREATH and THE ONES WE TRUST (August 2015). She divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. Keep up with Kimberly on Facebook (www.facebook.com/KimberlyBelleBooks), Twitter (@KimberlySBelle), or via her website at www.kimberlybellebooks.com.

Posted on December 20, 2013, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Love this post, Kimberly, and the message it sends this time of year. I’m thinking of someone I need to show up for more often. Thanks for the gift.

  2. I can’t believe I missed this! What a lovely message. I’m going to make this my mantra for the holiday season, too! Merry Christmas Kimberle!

  3. What a super way to raise money for a great cause! Congratulations to you for participating. I’d be sooo cold but the look on everyone’s faces is a smile! I concur with our too-materialistic society. If we gave more of ourselves, people would be happier around the holidays.
    Thanks for this post.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Patti. The race was a blast, and all the cute men in Speedos made it totally worth freezing my own butt off. And the money raised for charity didn’t hurt, either. 🙂 Happy holidays to you!

  4. Love the photos, Kimberly, and what a worthwhile cause. When our boys were youngsters, we used to take them out with us to deliver Christmas baskets for the city’s food bank. It was a real eye opener for them to see that not everyone is as fortunate at them. It was a lesson that’s stuck with them into their adulthood, and now they are compassionate young men who think of others before they think of themselves. Happy holidays to you and your family!

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