Give without a thought of getting in return

Published 10:04 am Monday, December 14, 2015

This year I made a Christmas list and sent it to my children. It may seem like an odd thing for an old woman to do but I decided to test it out and see how it was received. The last time I made a Christmas list was in the early ’70s. I asked for three things: a terrarium, a bathrobe and I actually can’t remember the third. I got doubles of everything. My mom and my husband fulfilled my wish list — twice.

As a mom, grandma and adult it seems kind of greedy to make out a Christmas list. I hear many adults poo-poo Christmas gifts and gifts of any kind during the year. Their comment is: “I can just go out and buy what I want.”  The other theory is that gifts are for kids and we shouldn’t be thinking about material things at this time of year.

I am sorry, but I do like gifts. They don’t have to be elaborate, expensive gifts but something that says “You are special and I was thinking about you.” As adults we spend our lives rushing around at work, taking care of children and their needs and trying to do our best to give back to society, and we get depleted. An act of kindness happens, and we get a card in the mail or a surprise gift and it lifts our day. I also love the element of surprise. That could be the writer in me.

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I cherish the gifts I get from my family and friends that I know are chosen just for me with thought. I keep them to remind me of the love and friendship I have in my life, and when I am down I look at them and am reminded I am blessed to have these people in my life.

I am a child at Christmas. I love giving gifts and seeing the smiles on the faces of those who enjoy gifts and are on the receiving end of my gift-giving. I had three things on my Christmas list this year and they are: coffee, wine (yes, I like to have a glass of wine occasionally) and homemade art. They aren’t anything elaborate. I also love white elephant gift giving. For me it is the element of surprise and fun.

The best gifts I have received are the artwork and the homemade gifts from my friends and family. But a gift at Christmas or any other time of the year doesn’t always have to come in the box. Recently, my friend received a gift from her family. When she came back home from an afternoon away, her family had put up a tree and decorated it for her. It had been many years since she had a tree. It was getting too difficult for her to do.

There are many seniors or disabled people who like the decorations of Christmas but can’t put up the tree or the lights because of their limitations. They might declare “It’s OK, I don’t need all that,” but enjoy it if someone puts the sparkle and the lights in their Christmas. However, if you put up the tree, remember to come and take it down and put it away for them too. And make sure to take the time to visit while you are there.

There has been some controversy about a commercial by a German supermarket chain. The premise is the children aren’t coming home for Christmas; they don’t have time. They get a notice their father dies, and they all rush home for the funeral. They find their father alive, and they are thrilled. It took a fake death to get his children home at the holidays. Some find this commercial awful, and others find it enlightening. I think it is very true. We have time for death but we don’t have time for life in our busy world. How many parents have heard, “We can’t come home because we are too busy?”

My friend is excited to put the ornaments on her tree she has received over the years from students during her teaching days and from her family. She remembers each student with the ornament. I do the same thing. I love my ornaments and I have all of them from Sunday school students, friends and the homemade ones from my children when they were small, and grandchildren. It is the memories that come with the gifts that keep us going when life gets tough. I am sad for those who don’t get that. I am sad for those who don’t appreciate gifts others give to them because in the giving is the gift. It makes someone happy when they take the time to give.

It is in the spirit of the giving when gifts mean something. It is in the heart that passes along the love, caring and friendship.

I’ll let you know if I get wine, coffee or love with my gifts, or nothing at all. In reality I already have the best gifts I could have received, and that is the family and friends who enrich my life. They are already my gift and they are received with thanks.

“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.” — Thomas S. Monson


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at Her Facebook page is