A season for loving and giving thanks

By: Sofia Aliño Logarta December 20,2015 - 12:51 AM

Christmas is the perfect time to educate young hearts. It is the best time for reminders about gifts. Do they realize why we give each other gifts on Christmas? Years ago, when as high school students we taught in Mabolo Elementary School, I used to ask the pupils: Did the Divine Spirit send us a card or a social telegram to express great love? Or phone in a dedication over the radio?

Or wrap an extremely expensive box of chocolates? The Divine actually fulfilled a promise and sent a Person. So in imitation and gratitude, with affection we give each other gifts.

With this in mind, it is important for them to realize that they have to be part of their presents. They can be included in the gift through their search for it, or they can even give a gift which had been actually made by them. Or the present may be something they have saved for, foregoing favorite sweets or soft drinks to be able to have the funds for that specially selected item for the loved one. To inspire them into putting themselves in the gift, a reading and reflection on O. Henry’s short story “The Gift of the Magi.”  Two persons who loved each other intensely gave from deep in their hearts—gave up their most precious belongings to be able to give what they believed would give joy to the loved one.

And wherein lies the wisdom of the Magi? The sharpness of their vision: to see a king, the promised one, in the defenceless infant wrapped in swaddling clothes born in a manger; as they showed with the gifts they gave. Perhaps, this kind of vision made Angela Merkel treat with compassion the Syrian refugees rather than as feared terrorists.

But in this time of climate change we need to remember that we have to avoid waste for simplicity is a key to our survival. From a certain perspective, the necessity for simplicity may give rise to creativity. Nowadays, recycling even of gifts is no longer frowned upon. We can transform a gift into a present truly needed with ingenuity and heart.

Gift-giving for a cause is no longer new. Women’s organizations have encouraged their members to choose products of women-empowering organizations. These women makers at the same time are into green products whose bags, accessories and décor contribute to zero waste. Free Trade sells quality products and  at the same time they provide farmers and workers better prices for their goods.  Among my treasured gifts are beautiful cards prepared in support of the Manobos of Bukidnon from eldest niece, Frankie.

Because there are so many gifts, there is the danger of losing sight of the sense of appreciation, gratitude. Or there may be disappointment over the gifts received. Sarah Ban Breathnach in her fantastic book, Simple Abundance, has life-changing ideas about gratitude.  She explains that with an appreciative heart with which we keep giving thanks for even the simplest things, we will be filled with sense of abundance in our lives. So early on,  Noelle and I usually start the day with prayers of thanksgiving for the many graces in our lives.

Filipinos, because they value an undying sense of gratitude, have many ways of saying thank you. The hug with that whisper of thank you, the kiss of the godchild for the godparent, and the beautifully written thank-you note are just some of these. Remember the Readers’ Digest article on how writing a letter of thanks to his father changed both their lives? Who can forget the lesson of the young boy of the film, Pay It Forward, who taught us that the world would change if we learn to transcend reciprocity and say thank you by paying it forward?

It must be in this spirit that Barangay Councilor Elena Arejola and GAD Focal Person Benilda Anis of Adlawan having been empowered in Lihok Filipina effectively do their work of helping families end the cycle of violence and bring domestic peace. So it is in appreciation of their spirit of paying it  forward that I close this discussion by saying: a zillion thanks to Ma’m Fe Cabatingan and Ma’m Virgie Palanca-Santiago who after years of fulfilling work in government service express gratitude to the Almighty, pay it forward by helping  victims of violence, clients and listeners of LAW Center Inc.

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TAGS: A season of loving and giving thanks, Christmas, Divine Spirit, Gift giving, Henry, Mabolo Elementary School, Magi, women

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