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Sue's Muse

Fri, Dec 2nd, 2011
Posted in Columnists

The Christmas ads started the day after Halloween. Glitzy, colorful ads have played across the screen ever since, meant to entice consumers to splurge on more than they can afford. Hallmark tugs at our emotions as a soldier holds a book his child reads. The morning shows talk about the latest gadgets, their idea of inexpensive guaranteed to add up to a swollen credit card the day after. We are made to think it is our duty to help the economy by buying big at Christmastime.

If you think the writer of Sue's Muse is a grinch, nothing is further from the truth. I love Christmas, with all its traditions. I love the Christmas services, the celebration with friends and family, the music, and even the gift giving. However, instead of being driven by the constant barrage of ads, and keeping up with the Christmas Joneses, I like to think our gifts show some thought, reflecting on other's interests and wishes.

We used to make many of our Christmas gifts. My husband's hand thrown pottery has always been a hit. I used to mount pictures of my garden on cardstock and give as cards. We have dried fruit from our trees, copied heirloom pictures of grandparents and parents, and made collages of pictures to give to relatives, among other things. My husband once drew a frog that I copied on fabric, stuffed with beans and gave to all the small children on my list.

However, my favorite gift to give children has always been books. A book is a double gift as an adult reads to a child on their lap, an experience rewarding to both. If the book is going to be read numerous times, I like to choose a selection that is as fun for the adult to read as the child to listen to.

Instead of driving long distances, let's shop locally and support our own communities. Each town has local shops unique in their own way. The lines are short and the sales persons nice. Antique stores offer an array of items, often nostalgic and one of a kind. Gift certificates can be obtained for local restaurants, a massage, or our only theater in Fillmore County, a Jem in its own way. (A ticket with popcorn makes a wonderful teacher, paperboy or girl gift.) Or better yet, go to the show as a family.

The best gift to give is a memory. What are the memories we want our children to cherish when they are grown and reflect on Christmases past? What is the example we want them to learn?

Take a child to enjoy music or attend their special performance. Prepare cookies and cut them out and bake and enjoy together. Decorate as a family. It may not make House Beautiful but will be much more rewarding. I know this is not always an easy feat to achieve. One year when the kids were teenagers, we all checked our schedules and there was one hour on one evening we could all decorate the tree, and thus we did.

In this hectic season, relax and give a smile to the children you see in your church or in your community, and show an interest in their activities. Sometimes we are so busy thinking of all that has to be done, we forget what Christmas is all about. In fact, a smile is always welcome at any age.

Visit someone who is shut in and bring cookies to share. Their stories may warm your Christmas.

In these tough times give a gift to Christmas in Fillmore County and to your local food shelf. Take it a step further and ask everyone to bring an item to parties and church services to donate.

Often the best gifts given are those that cost little but give a bit of your heart.

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