The gift of Christmas comes not in a box or bag, but in the heart

The holiday season can be a stressful, and painful, time — 
but also one for cherishing the true gifts we have been given

Seasons of celebration can be lonely times for many individuals and families.

It is a time that lends itself to reflect on times past, love lost, and the empty chair in the room. A painful memory can easily overshadow the chaos and commotion — even when, or especially when, children are involved.

We suffer in this home, too, and at times it becomes overwhelming to give it all in the season, and we choose to pull back in quiet reflection. It seems appropriate at many times and at others it is best to surround oneself with the love of a solid family and faithful friends. Dealing with Christmas and the weaving into a new year can leave one exposed, exhausted, and feeling down. How we choose to cope is a private affair.

To get through it all, families may wish to have the discussion on how to cope with the season and times ahead. Who needs time out? Who needs to see all the cousins? Who needs a pastor, doctor, counsellor or someone to help with cooking, cleaning and the farm chores? Who wants to do something totally different for a change?

Breaking off from old traditions can be hard but at some time, we become the family and the tradition ourselves. So this is part of the evolution.

At the same time, someone away may need or crave a time that is old and familiar so they can cope with the speed of their world today.

Whatever the desire, it all means a break from the usual schedule and coping with change. Stressed or satisfied — the season of Christmas is here to stay. And that is a good thing.

For underneath the glossy wrap that distracts us is a simple story — a story of the gift of a child. A child that brings hope to us all. A child that forever reminds us of rebirth and starting anew and that a greater power is hanging around our heart just ready to step in. There is a pure beauty to a story that starts with birth — something we all experience. And there is a pure truth to a child — because children are always honest. More importantly, there is the wonderment of being granted a gift of such magnitude.

Regardless of our walk or station in life, we have this gift. And though we may not see this baby, we can see the reflection of that child in those we miss today. Were they not a gift of such magnitude that you can only stand in wonderment that they graced your life? Did they not love you so deeply that you can only whisper their name and know you were needed? Did they not struggle like this baby did later in life and still come to their mother’s arms for a moment of quiet peace and did they not light up the room just with their smile? Of course — this and more. We know our own stories.

Remember this: Although it hurts to remember the past, it is the gift of that time, that person, and that place that we are encouraged to bring ahead. We bring it ahead and unwrap it, understanding that true love is never lost, faithful friends care in this life and the next, moms and dads loved us, and little children filled our lives with light.

As sad as we may feel — these gifts were free. And every Christmas, the “gift of the season” is not in a box or a bag but in the heart.

It brings joy to my life to know that I have been loved despite my many weaknesses and helped by amazing friends when I was down. It brings joy to my heart to know that my legacy lives on in very independent and unique branches of my children and grandchildren. I stand in wonderment at the beauty of my farm and the natural healers that generously share that space with me.

I cannot begin to express my thankfulness to live in a free country — a country where I can open my gift of Christmas at any time without fear of persecution. I’ve got joy in my heart that I have suffered and learned from that pain. And that through it all, I was offered the gift of grace through one small child.

If you are reading this, then I want to thank you for being a gift to me and offering hope and encouragement. I am grateful for the honour to fill this space.

Enjoy your gifts of the season.

About the author

AF Columnist

Brenda Schoepp

Brenda Schoepp works as an international mentor and motivational speaker. She can be contacted through her website at www.brendaschoepp.com. All rights reserved.

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