The best gift of all

December 21, 2009

by Jenni Sebora

The other day I was reading “The Polar Express,” to my daughters. This book was written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. In this story one child is chosen each year to receive the first gift of Christmas. This year, the boy wants one thing, a bell from Santa’s sleigh.

The story ends as the main character, now a grown man, tells us that most of his friends, including his sister, no longer can hear the bell and the sweet sound it makes. Though he has grown, the bell continues to ring for him as it does “for all who truly believe.”

For “all who truly believe,” could certainly be interrupted as a belief in Santa Claus. Possibly, it means a belief, in the baby Christ child. With this belief the true spirit of Christmas, the spirit of a loving and giving heart, comes through at this holiday time.

The spirit of Christmas is about giving graciously.

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35.

“The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others’ burdens, easing other’s loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of Christmas.” – W. C. Jones

There are certainly many simple ways we can involve our children in this spirit of giving. Each year, our Girl Scout troop travels to a senior care center to carol, or share a craft or some poems and cookies, but most importantly, to share our presence, which to the residents is the best gift of all.

As we were sharing our cookies with the men and women at the care center, one the ladies said, “This is the best. The best thing about Christmas is family and friends.” How can that not put a smile on your face, that a simple smile and cookie evokes such pleasure.

On our trip home from our visit to the senior care center just last week, one of the girls in our troop proclaimed, “I know what Christmas is really about. It is not about the presents; it is about being with your family and friends.”

There are our military personnel who are serving across the world. Thinking of them by sending them cards, candy, etc. is an easy way for our children to participate in community service.

Another local Girl Scout troop adopted a family in a local county. They contacted county services and the troop was set up with a family. A meal and gifts are ways to help the adopted family.

There are certainly various coat, clothes, toys, and food drives going on now and throughout the year.

How about a visit to an elderly neighbor or someone who cannot get out and travel? It just takes a little time, but yet reaps such intangible rewards for all involved.

One legend of the Christmas stocking tells us that St. Nick wanted to help a poor family and threw gold coins down their chimney. The coins fell into a stocking that was hanging to dry.

Maybe we can all “throw” just a few coins down someone’s “chimney” this holiday season. Who knows, a legend may just be formed for that particular receiver or giver.

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge