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This Christmas, try giving the gift of time and caring

In this season of giving, it’s good to remember that time, not money, or what it can buy, is the most precious gift. That’s not to say that money is not important. It buys things of needs, such as food, clothing, medicine, and pays the electric bills.
This year because of the coronavirus, many are suffering. The number of homeless in our community is growing because many have lost their jobs. Cuts, both real and threatened, to the federal food stamp program promise to increase hunger.
But, a person can usually make more money, not so with time.
This holiday season, trying giving the gift of listening, of visiting those in need of company. Have a meal with a friend, hold your family close, and show kindness to strangers. Such things bring joy, more so than a brightly wrapped package.
Since March, 57 persons in our community have died due to COVID-19. Right now, there are many in our local hospitals being treated for the virus. Many families are grieving, others are hurting in varied ways because of COVID-19. Think of the many nursing home residents in our community, who are in lockdown because of the virus. They cannot visit with family or friends. And, this has been going on since March. And the number of COVID-19 cases keeps increasing daily rather than decreasing.
Giving, especially contributions to a cause that one holds dear, sends a little dose of pleasure to everyone involved. Thinking of the gift later brings a warm glow. Happiness rekindled. So treat yourself. Give some money to a good cause. There’s no lack of them — the Salvation Army Red Kettle, ARM, Good Samaritans Ministry, the Riverside Church Food Ministry for the Homeless, Hale Ministry, and the list goes on and on. A gift of food sustains life, but there are other ways to give as well. A gift to an arts group, such as the Bonnie Kate preservation group, keeps culture alive. A gift to medical research such as St. Jude Children’s Hospital or the Niswonger Children’s Hospital may find a cure for cancer or some other disease. And, then, of course, there’s the gift of time.
The late Eric Sevareid, CBS news journalist, aptly said “Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.”
Every Christmas has a rhythm of its own. Perhaps it was all those balmy days in November that made us think Dec. 25 was so very far off — even if the Christmas decorations were all over the stores while the Halloween candy was still on the shelves.
If ever there were a year in which, as the song goes, “we need a little Christmas,” well, this would be it.
But in the quiet of this Christmas season there should be a time to enjoy the blessings of peace and to celebrate the birth of a child who would become known as the Prince of Peace.
It is a time to celebrate family and friends, to welcome the stranger and share the gifts that don’t need ribbon and foil wrapping.
Sometimes time and kindness, the warmth of an embrace, a welcoming meal, a moment of quiet conversation, a song that touches the heart are what our souls are searching for and which, in the end, are so easy to give. Such gifts will last long after the tree is taken down, the ornaments stowed and the toys have run down their batteries.
It is the gift of time and of caring that we give each other that have real meaning today and always.