This Christmas many will be happy with the many gifts they will be getting and the many friends and family that they will be seeing. And yes, sadly, there will be those who might not be getting any presents under a tree… but the gifts I want to focus on are the ones money can’t buy. Truly amidst all the hysteria of the commercialization of Christmas there are daily gifts we need to be thankful for, and, if come Christmas Day we still have these to give, then those are the real gifts we truly want to hand out. For me these are: life and health; family and friends; a loving home with food; and freedom and responsibility.
Life and Health like a shining star
As we mourn the passing of so many of our loved ones and more recently Dr. Michael DeShield, lets not forget that the mere fact that we are alive come Christmas day we have gotten a gift no money can buy. My sincere condolence to the DeShield family and indeed our nation has lost a very special and valuable contributing member of our society. Rest in Peace Doc. Many have left us in 2011 and some in such tragic and senseless way, but the fact that we are still alive means that there is still hope for us to make and be the change we want in our little Belize.
Christmas is about the birth of Christ – yes a new life came into being and he fulfilled his purpose to mankind and even though we don’t know the exact date of his birth, the mere fact that he walked this earth to bring the good news to us makes us remember each year that we do have a gift money can’t buy. As we celebrate Christmas, let’s keep the reason for the season at the center of all we do. I sincerely pray that at least on this one day – all in Belize experience the calming love of our Creator as our hearts are filled with compassion and goodwill towards our fellow brothers.
As we celebrate life, this is intrinsically tied in to health…. Anyone who has ever been really ill will tell you that life in itself is not fulfilled unless we are healthy enough to enjoy it. So I pray that as we all wake up healthy and strong Christmas day we are thankful for the gift of good health, which again money can’t buy – but can at least pay the medical bills. Let us not take for granted our health and as we eat, drink and be merry, let us not do it to the excesses and detriment of our health, but rather let us share our good fortune with those who may not have anything to eat and drink… this sharing and kindness money can’t buy and let it not be only around the Christmas, but year round!
A tree of Family and Friends
And what would life and health be without family and friends…the saying that ‘no man is an island’ is so true because we are social beings and must interact with each other to be fully functional and complete. And Christmas would surely not be complete without family and friends. As a matter of fact sometimes this is the only time of the year that some get to see some or so many relatives or that the entire family gets to congregate in one place… except for funerals…but it is best when the circumstances are joyous.
It is interesting that when we trace our blood-linage it’s called tracing our family tree. This is a great metaphor since indeed family grow on us like branches and they link us in so many ways … like the complexity and patterns of the branches that just keep growing and extending on a tree so are our families. Even more interesting is the fact that one iconic symbol of modern Christmas celebration is a Christmas tree. Then, let’s not forget that the tree also represents life and hope, which is what the birth of Christ brought us when he came into this world to free us from our sins and give us eternal life, even in our physical death. All we have to do is humble ourselves and seek forgiveness and decide to follow Him. At John 3:16 it reads “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Christ had to be born to be able to die for us and in his death we got eternal life and salvation, if we freely chose it…tsk tsk tsk – make the right choice! AS we celebrate with our family and friends let uss also remember to show respect and honour to our loved ones who have also sacrificed to raise us, educate us, feed us and love us… thank them for these everlasting gifts money can’t buy!
Trimmings and decorations
As we picture the imagery of the Christmas tree so beautiful and well decorated, lets count the many other blessings in our life, as the decorations and trimmings on the tree. Seemingly simple things such as our house and home and the daily food we eat are blessings which are bought with money, but the enjoyment of these money can’t buy.
Have you ever met people, who have the best and most expensive houses, but it’s not a home, and the most exquisite food but it is not a meal to share with company? Well, as we celebrate this season lets be thankful for the house we rent, have on mortgage or fully own because it’s a shelter and more important it is a home we share with our family – it is our castle, our kingdom our refuge! Don’t envy those who seemingly have more material things… they might not be as happy as you… they might not have the warmth of family and love and the peace of mind you enjoy with the little you have… plus envy denies you your own blessings because you too busy not appreciating what you actually have.
And if you can welcome a person into your home for the day and share with them from your table your blessings for this Christmas, you will be getting more than what any glittering wrapped present can give you… for it is in giving we receive. Now I am not saying to give so you get back.. just give freely because that is a gift money can’t buy.
Lights of freedom and responsibility
And finally, as we put the last touch to this Christmas tree with the twinkling lights that brightens the eyes of children and brings sparkles of hope, let’s not forget one gift that no money can buy – that is our freedom. Let us be thankful that Belize is still a free country, where we can have different religions, opinions, political parties, races, living as one. Let us exercise more tolerance for the views, ways and choices of others, as long as they remain within the ambit of what is lawful in or country and not harmful to us. While we are at peace celebrating this Christmas, let us not forget to offer our prayers for those countries at war, undergoing civil unrest and their people undergoing persecution and torture for choosing to be different.
As we reflect and appreciate the gift of freedom we in Belize enjoy, as a people, we MUST resolve to free our minds from the mental bondages of political party polarization that divides us and turn brothers against brothers, fathers against sons. Let’s us also be responsible and speak to and about each other with respect even when we disagree. There is no need to be vulgar and demeaning because, honestly, such conduct is not a reflection of the person you seek to tear down but of yourself that launch these verbal character assassination. The public example we show our children is the standard we set, so when we curse others, use the dirtiest and nastiest words, hurl unfounded allegations let’s keep in mind somehow a child is looking and learning. But if we speak respectfully, honestly, firmly even in disagreement with others; that child looking on will be learning how to solve problems without violence and hate. Remember with freedom comes responsibility and it is our responsibility to lead by example!
Now that I have built this wonderful imaginary Christmas tree for all, I will beautifully wrap boxes this Christmas and in it write the following and gift it to myself and family as a reminder of what gifts we can give each other, that money cannot buy. My boxes will contain: love, hope, peace, wisdom and faith! I invite my readers to do the same so we never forget what are these gifts, that we can give our family, country and world! An especially blessed Christmas to all my readers and may the peace of the Lord be with you!
Author: Audrey Matura-Shepherd