A true Christmas gift is giving all year round

Healthy Living

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Photo by Erin Achenbach

Santa Ted at Christmas in Crestwood in 2018.

By Carl Hendrickson, For the Call

December! The days grow shorter and colder. As a child I lived in a coal mining camp in Alaska where the temperatures dropped to the negative double digits and the days were very short.    

It was a desolate existence.

We had no television, no movie theaters, no shopping malls.

The mining camp had no churches or synagogues.

Children were educated in a one-room schoolhouse.

There were none of the sumptuous meals and sparkling parties that we have come to enjoy.

Entering our kitchen in Alaska, you would smell fresh bread baking and soup bubbling away on the coal stove.    

There was little money for fancy gifts and frills. Practical gifts like a shirt, trousers or a pair of shoes were what I received.

But as I matured, I realized my parents had given me an extremely valuable gift.

Many an evening over the holiday season there would be company for dinner — neighbors who were going through an illness, or a family struggling to cope with a not-too-uncommon mine injury to one of its members.

By sharing homemade bread and soup with the weak, ill, hurt or needy, my parents were demonstrating a quality of devotion and service of mercy that often appears lacking in our present fast-paced world.

What was remarkable was that my parents opened their home whenever the need arose, not just over the holiday season.

It is easy to be generous over the holiday season, but far too often we forget that the need is there every day.

Many readers, I am sure, are active in community and religious organizations that are very generous to the less fortunate over the holiday season.

May you be blessed for your generosity. However, what will you do next summer?

Many organizations that have an annual summer picnic will collect canned goods and food staples to donate to a food pantry. Others collect clothing periodically to give to the needy.

So, even if you do not get all your shopping done and get swamped with the commercialism and frenzy of the holidays, may you find peace and joy.

May you have a blessed Christmas in these uncertain times. And may the spirit of giving stay with you after the holidays so you continue to help those who need it.

By giving to those less fortunate you are giving a true gift to them and to yourself.