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OPINION: The true spirit of Christmas

According to a national study, Americans project they will spend an average of $882 on Christmas gifts this year. That's just gifts. The figure doesn't include the decorations, the Christmas cards or Christmas dinner. And it's only an estimate.

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According to a national study, Americans project they will spend an average of $882 on Christmas gifts this year. That's just gifts. The figure doesn't include the decorations, the Christmas cards or Christmas dinner. And it's only an estimate.

A few years ago, Katie Hunhoff wrote a piece in South Dakota Magazine about a Christmas in South Dakota during the Great Depression. Hunhoff told the story of Hilda McKnight and her husband who ran the Home for the Poor in Charles Mix County at the time.

Hilda did all she could to provide clothing for the residents in need. One girl who lived at the home expressed appreciation for the great effort Hilda expended to provide clothes for the children, but then the girl said, "It doesn't really matter, I guess. I have this lovely skirt and they still call us 'poor house kids' at school."

Hilda turned to a pile of clothes just delivered and said, "Let's see what treasures we can find." The two dug through the donations, which seemed full of useless items, until the girl found a chiffon scarf which Hilda told her to keep.

That scarf became the girl's most prized possession. She would sit on her bed and stroke the soft scarf, and when she put the scarf away, it was always neatly folded. It made her feel special and as if, when she wore it, she were somewhere else.

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As you can imagine, those who resided at the Home for the Poor didn't expect to receive much for Christmas. Neither did Hilda. But when Christmas came, the girl insisted that she had a present she wanted to give Hilda. So Hilda opened the box wrapped in paper and found the girl's chiffon scarf.

"It's all I have, Mrs. Mac," the girl said.

Today, in a time of greater abundance, when we spend so much on gifts, it might seem odd that something as simple as a scarf could mean so much. But it reminds us that giving is not measured by the size or value of the gift, but by the love with which it is given. Gifts made with a true and sincere heart, to those we love, are tokens of our deeper feelings. Christmas is a time to be thoughtful toward the people in our lives and show our loved ones how much they mean to us. It's also a time to be charitable toward those in need.

The man who shovels his neighbor's driveway, the little girl who gives her allowance to the bell ringer and the church that opens its doors to someone without shelter-they're expressing the true spirit of Christmas.

This Christmas, take time to add sincere appreciation and love to the tangible gifts you give. Find the means, if only in a small way, to be a blessing to someone in need. Don't underestimate the immense value of your life and the difference you can make in the lives of those you touch.

Merry Christmas.

Related Topics: CHRISTMAS
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