My father likes to tell the story of one particular Christmas with his family. Of twelve - count 'em, twelve - siblings, he fell somewhere near the middle, and on this particular year there may have been six or seven still at home. They were not a rich family - they made ends meet in a modest home in Louisville, Kentucky, and on this Christmas his father brought home the largest tree the kids had ever seen. It brushed the ceiling, and when they draped it with garlands, ornaments, and light strings it looked enchantingly beautiful.
Only problem with this scenario? The family only had so much for electricity, so in order to light the tree they had to shut down everything else in the home - including the heat. So, for that Christmas season, the family would gather for about an hour, power down the heat, wrap up in blankets and sit in front of the tree. When everybody had their fill of holiday cheer, they turned off the tree, cranked up the heat, and went about their business.
Every year around this time I recall that story and enjoy a smile. The holidays I have enjoyed never required such thriftiness, but I like the idea that my aunts, uncles, and grandparents were willing to sacrifice a few creature comforts in order to share the spirit of the season. I try to instill similar values in my young one through various gift donations - though I would like to be more active in charity throughout the year. Especially this year, with people out of work and enduring financial hardships, it is important that we remember to give.
If you do have the time or money to spare, please consider a donation to a shelter, a toy drive, or related program. May you be blessed this season.
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