The Greatest Gifts Are Filled With Love

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by Halsey Blocher |

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Christmas is my favorite holiday for many reasons, and gift-giving is just one. I genuinely enjoy hunting for the perfect gift for everyone on my list. It’s one of the ways I express love, and watching family and friends open hand-selected surprises brings me as much joy as opening my own gifts.

In recent years, my family has started a new Christmas tradition. Instead of buying more gifts than any of us really need, we limit ourselves to getting no more than two gifts for each person, and we all get a stocking full of smaller goodies and treats.

Gift-giving is still a meaningful part of the holiday season, but we’ve found that we don’t have to buy one another a mountain of presents to show how much we care. In fact, keeping things simpler allows us to invest more effort into choosing gifts that everyone will truly use and enjoy.

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Additionally, we’ve also started choosing charitable causes to support during the holidays. The money that we save from buying fewer gifts is used to help organizations that do positive work in areas that are important to us.

Last year, I purchased books for older children and donated them to Kate’s Kart, a local nonprofit that delivers books to hospitalized kids. I was a recipient of many wonderful books during my long hospitalization over 10 years ago, so the organization and the children it serves hold a special place in my heart.

The transition to fewer gifts and more giving was quite easy for me to make. I’m generally not a materialistic person anyway, and I’m always looking for opportunities to give back to the community. I’m grateful that my upbringing taught me appreciation for people’s time, investment, and thoughtfulness, the joy of giving instead of just receiving, and that value isn’t always found in how much money something costs. These lessons have served me well during the holidays and in life.

There have been many times when we didn’t know if I’d live long enough to see the next holiday or even the next ordinary day. We’ve been told repeatedly that I wouldn’t. Thankfully, even the experts have been wrong every time, but uncertainty has a way of emphasizing the value of time together.

It can’t be wrapped in paper or tied up with a bow like everything else under the tree, but I know that 24 (and counting) Christmases with my family is one of the greatest gifts I’ve received.

And enjoying that time in good health is another. The winter holidays coincide with cold and flu season, and there have been times when I’ve spent Christmas fighting infections or recovering from the toll they take on my body. It doesn’t stop me from finding joy in the festive time, but now, I do always notice when it comes and goes without illness.

We might sometimes be tempted to take these sorts of things for granted. After all, there will always be more time tomorrow, and there’s no reason why we should lose our health anytime soon, right? I know it’s easy to slip into the trap of thinking this way. If you’re working on developing a mindset of gratitude, be patient and gentle with yourself. It takes practice. If it seems like it’s easy for me, remember that I’ve had many life experiences that have helped lead me to this point.

I’ve come to see every good thing in life, and even some of the seemingly bad things, as gifts. This helps me better understand the significance of every gift I give. Instead of getting caught up in buying the biggest, newest, most expensive presents, I seek thoughtful gifts that show my gratitude for the people in my life and how much I value them. They are gifts to me, and the love I put into their gifts sometimes carries that message better than the gift itself.

None of this is to say that big or expensive gifts are bad. If those things will bring someone joy, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving them. The point is simply that the best gifts are the ones given with love, regardless of cost.

As you prepare for Christmas this year and check each item off your shopping list, I hope you’ll pause to reflect on a few things.

First, remember to give thanks for the gifts in your life that can’t be wrapped or quantified. These are some of your greatest blessings. Second, remember that like the king who was born as a humble baby on Christmas, a gift that is given with love doesn’t have to seem extraordinary to be deeply meaningful to the person who will receive it.

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Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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