Tuesday, December 23, 2008 | By: Tonya Keitt Kalule

The Spirit of Christmas

This is a picture of my daughter Whitney with Santa at 20 months old.

Christmas is here again and it brings with it a great deal of change for a great deal of families. The economy will force some to be more creative for Christmas and others will feel a great deal of pain. Using this time to count your blessings is the best thing that one can do, because if you have life and health, you are truly blessed and have the chance to once again accumulate stuff. More than likely, accumulating stuff will become less and less important, other than the stuff that you need to be comfortable in this life; and many will do with out those for now. America has come back from the Great Depression and we will again recover from this economic down turn.

The meaning of Christmas started to change for me many years ago when my daughter was about six years old. We had been living in Atlanta, Georgia and I had been laid off from my job at MCI about five months before, forcing me to move my young daughter back to Savannah, Ga. to live with my parents. Well that move was a strain on all involved. Seeing the disappointment in my parents eyes was extremely painful, but something I had become accustomed to. In the early days of December I ran into an old friend that was now a psychologist and shared and office with another psychologist in a beautiful old house in Thunderbolt that faced the water. She invited me and my daughter to a Christmas party that they were having at their office for many of their patients and their families who either had no family or were away from family for various reasons. I decided to go and she said the only requirement was to bring a Christmas ornament for the tree and a potluck dish. This party was taking place on Christmas eve and it was quite cold that night, but the sky was clear. I was in a house full of people that I didn't know, where we decorated the tree, chained popcorn, laughed, talked, and ate all sort of food. After the kids chose a present from a grab bag, we were all going caroling through the neighborhood, and the smallest kids road in the back of an old pickup truck with wooden railings, filled with hay. We walked from door to door singing, badly I might add. The people came outside to greet us with hot chocolate and candy canes for the kids. It was the first time that I had done anything like this, but it was the most wonderful experience. I was with people whom I didn't know until that night and have not seen since. But there was a beautifully warm connection of peace and love like I had never felt before. It really restored my faith in people and love. I then realized that blood didn't equate to family, that you can have the sense of family with perfect strangers. I know it was only one night, just like you have chance meetings with people on the street, but that immediate connection, warmth, and acceptance you feel is something you carry with you through out your life.

This experience showed me that Christmas was not about shopping for that hat and scarf, sweater, or whatever gift you are buying for friends and family, it is mostly about what is on the inside than what is on or for the outside. That Christmas warmed my heart and has remained apart of me, and to me that is what Christmas is really about, that is the true spirit of Christmas. As each Christmas comes and goes, I want less and less of that tradition my family has created, which was wonderful for many years, but things have changed and I want to change with it. It has become about giviing of yourself instead of giving of stuff. Oh yeh, I know that giving of stuff can also be memorable, when someone gets something that they have been wanting for sometime, a new car, a new baby, a marriage proposal, etc., but most of these things are also for the heart. Most things that are purchased and put in a box are not. Christmas has also been a time of great loss for some and reconnection for others. It is important for us to reconnect to what is important in our lives and celebrate that. Always!


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