This I Believe

Jennifer - Moultrie, Georgia
Entered on January 24, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family

It Is Better To Give Than To Receive

“It is better to give than to receive.” This is a phrase I have heard my entire life. However, I never actually experienced it first hand. Until last Christmas.

I have a large, lively family; one that is extremely diversely opinionated, and no one is quiet. The conglomeration of such “Type A” personalities makes for interesting get-togethers.

Last Christmas, my uncle and stepsisters suggested that on Christmas Eve, instead of exchanging gifts like normal, we make fruit baskets and take them to residents at local nursing homes. At first, the idea went over well. Soon however, people started to realize that they would be doing something different, and no one would get a present. My family started to fuss about the importance of tradition and how it would probably upset everyone to not be able to give anything. Needless to say, our living room got very heated, very fast.

The debate remained unresolved while the month of December passed. My relatives got involved in parades and parties and decorations and seldom talked about Christmas Eve, but, like always, the day did come.

I was sitting at our table, placing fruit into baskets when the grumbling started again. My aunt entirely opposed to the thought, stood up, eyes full of fire.

She whined, “Not giving to the family would make me feel bad, and we could easily exchange gifts and visit the elderly.”

Pappy spoke next. “I’ve given gifts since I was young and change just doesn’t suit.”

More people chimed in all at once, and the kitchen was so chaotic, full of groans and anger bouncing off every wall.

Then my grandmother realized, “It’s Christmas. Why are we doing this? It’s Christmas!”

The thought washed over all of us like a tidal wave. Christmas is, in itself, a wonderful gift. So, in effect, we had already received the best gift anyone could have given. Now it was time to spread that gift.

Later that night, after I got home, I sat by the fireplace and took what I learned and turned it over and over in my mind. The joy on the faces of my family and the bright smiles served as clear windows revealing the absolute satisfaction in every heart. The magic of Christmas was just as tangible as the baskets we had created.

The moment meant more to me than any object in any box, because I got a gift that was much more personal. Instead of being wrapped in paper and tied with a bow, it was wrapped in an old saying, and tied together with the Christmas Spirit. My lesson, my Christmas gift, had come full circle: It is so much better to give, than to receive.