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This year has been a tough year forÂ many of us and I'm sure many of you are in the same situation this year. As always, I'm really excited about Christmas. I feel like a kid again at this time of year and even though I don't have much money to spend for gifts, whichÂ is at times a bit discouraging, in a way, it's even better. Christmas is not, after all, Â about the money and it's not about the gifts. That magic that children feel isn't just tied to what's in the toy store and on their list for Santa.Christmas means a lot of different things to many people and to some people, it has no religious significance at all, but despite our beliefs, for many of us, this is a wonderous holiday that is full of love, lights, laughter, and family togetherness if we are blessed.
To me, the excitement of children and the warmth I feel at exchanging pleasantries with neighbors or friends and certainly family at this time of year means more to me than ever. Baking cookies, decorating a tree, sledding with the kids, cocoa to warm up after being outside, ahhhh....this is what I love. But however you celebrate or don't Christmas, I hope you stillÂ enjoy the spiritutality of the season, and please remember that the true gifts are ones from the heart. In my wee hours of the night after work, IÂ am gleefully making pillows, dolly blankets, beanbags and other fun homey kinda comfort things for my family and it feels nice...no, they aren't Pottery Barn but they are from my heart and they don't cost a lot and this is what I love to do. I've made lots of the little ones baby quilts and they treasure them still, and that's how our family is. Yeah, we like to shop and we love gifts like anyone else, but the ones we remember are the ones people put their hearts into, their time and thoughts into, and not the ones from Toys R Us. We love baking banana bread and building gingerbread houses. Those good old days don't have to be over and gone. We can still recapture some ofthese beautiful moments or make new ones of our own. This is a great time to start family traditions, laugh together, make thingsÂ we aleays wanted to tryÂ and to teach kids that not all gifts have to be expensive or bought, that they can use their imaginations and unique talents to make special things people will really appreciate.
Gifts can be lots of things,Â like homemade wreaths I made my daughters or they can be hand made gift certificates saying you'll babysit or toÂ shovelÂ a walkway 7 times or read them a story or that you will warm up their car when it's cold...whatever means a lot to someone special in your world. Let's teach our children what true giving really means this Christmas. This is the gift that keeps on giving. This is appreciation for the little things that they will later pass on to their children, too. The best gift I ever got from one of my kids was the "joy jar" my daughter made me in a metal tin and filled with slips of paper offering backrubs, foot rubs, head rubs, and help with the chores, all my favorite stuff, each accompanied by a beautiful rock she had chosen. I still have that tin many years later andÂ I never did getÂ my last fewÂ my foot rubs, but each time I see it there on the shelf, it makes me smile!
I am proud of the good old-fashioned values my girls have and that now they are proud of, too. For us, this is what Christmas is about, what giving is about, and what real love is. It doesn't come from the toy store. It doesn't come with a pricetag. It comes from the heart. And don't forget about elderly neighobors, shut ins or that new family down the street who might be struggling more than you are. Don't foreget about giving to food shelves or helping cook in a soup kitchen or donating warm clothes to a local church. There are many ways to pass on love and good will to man, woman, child.Â Tis' the season for sharing, love, and togetherness. We may not have much money but as for us, we don't need it to show the light of love, we just need ourselves and a caring heart. In my family, if we are warm, fed and all still together, all the rest is bonus. I hope you find the true spirit of Christmas in your home, your heartÂ and your little corner of the world this year as well.