December 30th, 2013
Giving Christmas a New Meaning By Giving
For the past three years, Christmas has held a very distinct significance for me: the end of the semester and a break from school. Sure there were decorations, and Christmas carols on the radio, and presents and parties, but more importantly, there were no exams to stress over, no research papers to stay up late to finish, and no heavy law books to haul to and from the library each day. By the time I had completed my final exams, I didn't care whether it was Christmas, or a random Tuesday in April, so long as it meant I got to sleep in and watch hours of bad reality television again.
This year, I began to realize that I was having a very different reaction to Christmas than I had experienced in recent years. I noticed which Christmas carols were played most often on the radio. I took time to drive through my neighborhood, and Oglebay Park, and admire the wonderful light displays. I spent a few evenings writing Christmas cards to all of my friends and relatives. Christmas really became a season for me, rather than just a day of the year. And, in addition to my increased enjoyment of Christmas all around me, I felt compelled to celebrate the season in another way I had not done in years, by volunteering my time to share the holidays with others.
Having only lived in Wheeling for a few months, I wasn't entirely sure where to go to share my Christmas spirit. I thought maybe I would just have to wait until I returned home to Michigan for Christmas, where I could accompany my mom to volunteer with some of the organizations in my hometown. Even though that is still something I am looking forward to doing over the holidays, I was also fortunate to find a fantastic opportunity to participate in Christmas giving right here in Wheeling. Linda Bordas invited me to join her, Linda Scaggs, and Jeanne Dedo on an annual Christmas shopping trip with children from a local school.
We met the students, and some of their teachers and guidance counselors, at the school in the morning. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I could tell that all of the kids were excited as we boarded the school bus to head out. A bus driver, who was generously volunteering her time during the day, drove us to the St. Clairsville mall. Once we arrived, we were each paired with a student or two, and then given free reign to shop. I think I looked at almost every item in the store while shopping with these great kids, but I can safely say that the aisles housing electronics, videogames, candy and Steelers gear got the most attention. The students were each given a set amount that they could spend, and I was very impressed at how carefully they kept track of their purchases, adding and subtracting the cost of each item as they went. It was also touching to see the students search for special items for family members, or to substitute out an item they had selected for themselves after finding something that they knew their mother or a sibling would really love. It would have been very easy for these children to spend the entire amount on things they wanted, but each of them used careful consideration for their selections, and thought of others during the process. Is there anything that embodies the Christmas spirit more than that?
Linda Bordas told the kids, both at the start and end of our day together, that this is her favorite day of the year, and I have to agree with her! I am truly appreciative of this opportunity, and hope to be able to participate in this annual event again in the future. I am blessed to have found a new meaning and appreciation for the Christmas season.