This I Believe

KaraLee - Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Entered on November 19, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: gratitude
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The Real Christmas Spirit

Christmas is a joyful time to be with family and to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but it is also a time of much selfishness and greed. In the festivities, many people lose track of the true meaning of Christmas and get engulfed in the over glorified gift giving aspect of Christmas. I believe that you cannot be happy until you first grasp the characteristic of gratitude. Things that used to be considered special are now taken for granted. All my life I have been told how lucky I am to live in a free country and be born into a family that can offer me a good education and a chance at success. None of it was enough until I had the opportunity to see how people who were not as fortunate as me lived. In 2002 I had the opportunity to visit a very poor place in Mexico on a mission trip with my church. The people that live in this area are very poor and live in desperate conditions. And yet almost every one was happy and content with their lives. Here at home I complain that what I have is not enough, that our house is too small, I don’t have the latest phone or other gadget, etc. But these loving people had nothing and they were still happy. I think that our home is not big enough for four people, yet when our mission team handed the keys of a home hardly bigger than my bedroom to a family of seven, the happiness on their faces was real. In our society everyone is always rushing to nowhere in particular without taking the time to appreciate the things they are given. I believe that if we took more time to think of others instead of ourselves, the homeless might not go hungry, the lonely may be comforted, the lost might be found. Growing up in a place where you are influenced from childhood to always strive for more and when you reach your goal, to keep pushing, my new goal is to be thankful for what I have and share it with others. The people I met on my trip had nothing, yet they were still grateful for the simplest acts of kindness and they were happy just knowing that they had their family and that they had love. They had nothing to hold on to and yet everything and everyone they encountered they loved and respected. If you separated the average American from all of the things we “need,” we would be extremely dissatisfied. We all have something to learn from people that have nothing and they are willing to give up anything they have for others. This Christmas I challenge you to be thankful and grateful for what you have and to give more than you receive.