The holiday season is upon us once again, and we are reminded that this is the time when our focus should be on those things that really matter.
When my younger brother and I were kids, we would sneak out of bed to peek into the den to catch a glimpse of our gifts. The Christmas tree stood tall and beautifully adorned with the usual lights, bows, and garnish, topped with a brightly glowing star. It was artificial, but the joy it brought was the most genuine kind.
The best part about our tree was the homemade ornaments my siblings and I made in elementary school. As we grew older, the usual trimmings did too. And, so the time would come for us to buy new lights, bows, and garnish. The Christmas tree's limbs would need shaping to straighten out those bends that came from its year-long cramped stay in the box.
Oh, but those homemade Christmas ornaments would stand the test of time. Sure, the words were faded a bit and the colors weren't quite as brilliant as they once were, but we couldn't go buy new ones. Those ornaments carried special meaning. They were priceless little treasures with snaggletooth smiles, crooked letters, and bizarre color combinations. They were cherished adornments that decorated the tree and lit up our parents' hearts, which lit up ours. They were frozen moments of our youth and sincerity, hopefulness and happiness.
They were little gifts that kept on giving, year after year, as they created memories that reminded my family of the real significance of the holiday season-love. The best part of all is that they were free. Just like love.
We all get caught up in wanting to buy gifts for our family and friends. It is almost expected because it is what we've always done. But, there is such a wonderful opportunity before us as a country and as a community to reflect on the situations of so many families and individuals who are without jobs and who have lost their homes. We should reflect on those who have lost loved ones this year and the heartache they must feel at this time. When we do this, we summon unto us the spirit of gratitude and it fills our hearts and minds as we go about our business this holiday season. It reminds us that whether or not we can afford to buy a gift or whether or not we receive one, life itself with the basic necessities is gift enough.
Most of you have children who are all grown up now. I bet you remember those handcrafted gifts they brought home and that you proudly displayed on the fridge, on the living room table or even hung on your Christmas tree. They did it because they didn't have jobs to go out and buy you things. They did it because they thought about you and that thought started with love.
You adored the gifts they gave because you appreciated where they came from-straight from the heart. Rather than spending a lot of money, maybe try spending a little of your time and a little effort. Reflect on the gifts of life, love, and opportunity-gifts that really matter.
Artificial trees, homemade ornaments with snaggletooth smiles, crooked letters, and bizarre color combinations...priceless.
Be encouraged and Merry Christmas.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.