Breaking Out of the Material MoldPublished December 25, 2007
The puddies broke out of the material mold, too.Their donations helped shelter cats like Stinky this holiday.
We really cut down this Christmas. The cats got just one gift, and we donated their treat money to the shelter I volunteer at. But that wasn’t always the way. In years gone by, I spent money like a deranged Rockefeller. See, going into hock this time of the year was expected, and all my friends reciprocated. I’m not quite sure how and when the custom started. (Was I the ring leader?) It was just something we all did. Worse still, we were always too rushed with preparations, so sharing the spirit of the season was totally out of the question. And when December 25th itself came, there was barely time to stop, swap, and shout “Happy Holidays” from the car.
Then, one year, an illness tapped all my finances and I thought it would be the worst Christmas of my life. As it turned out, it was not only the best, but also made every holiday since more meaningful. Yup, because I had no money, I had to call friends and with much embarrassment, announce there would be no presents.
"Being a good friend has nothing to do with buying expensive gifts."
Sighs of relief greeted me. What’s more, I actually turned out a hero. Seems everyone’s pocketbook had moths in it that Christmas. Yet no one wanted to come out and say so.
That made me wonder how many times before I had inadvertently put pressure on friends to buy presents they couldn’t afford. Lesson Number One: Being a good friend has nothing to do with buying expensive gifts.
That was the year our group decided to break out of the material mold for good.Instead, we had a Christmas gab fest at my house. We drank mulled wine, and made sad imitations of sugar cookies. We had a ball, and it didn’t cost us a fortune. Ever since, come the holidays, we set aside some time to either visit or eat a meal out. Lesson Number Two: Giving the gift of yourself is better than any you can buy.
"Presents are so over-rated. We'd rather have someone spend quality time with us."
Canceling the Christmas gift-off proved better than I had imagined. Over the years, it has left me free to enjoy holiday happenings I never could before--such as Christmas tree lightings, and the singing of the Messiah at the high school. (Funny, these had always been penciled into my diary in the past, but inevitably got bumped because of all the shopping.)
More importantly, though, it reminded me what should be foremost in my heart at every Christmas celebration: the birth of the Savior. Lesson number three: God’s love is the best gift of all. It doesn’t break and it won’t wear out. And, as today begins to fade, and the routine of life continues on, it’s the one present that will be as new tomorrow as it is today.
Merry Christmas from Angela, McDuff, Sinead, Kitty Literate and her husband.
Photos by Maggie Swanson.
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