It’s the Thought that Counts

When I was a little girl growing up on Long Island, I didn’t have any money of my own, an allowance, or any way of making money. It just wasn’t part of our family upbringing. However, every year before Christmas, my grandma would give me about $5 to go out and buy presents. That was a lot of money to an eight year old and I remember walking down to the local dime store to spend my fortune. I’d enter the dime store and look for special gifts for my mom, my dad, my aunt and my grandma. I remember finding a punch bowl for my mom and dad, the kind that had the little hooks and all the cups would hang around the edge. It cost about $2. My aunt would get a bottle of what I thought was the fanciest bubble bath. I remember giving my grandma some special smelling powder. And, of course, there were cards to go with the gifts.

I was very proud of my gifts and couldn’t wait for everyone to open them on Christmas morning. It was a wonderful feeling to see their faces and to have them acknowledge how much they appreciated the gift. I don’t know if they ever used those gifts or really liked them, but I know they appreciated that I thought of them and wanted to give them something.

Giving was a huge part of Christmas for me. I will always be grateful for my grandma teaching me about giving gifts. I learned that no matter how small or big the gift was, it was the thought that counted.

For me, it is important to remember this today when a lot of pressure is put on us to buy presents at Christmas time. We are encouraged by advertisers to spend more than we have and that the bigger the present the better it is. I could fall into the trap of giving beyond my ability in the world of form, but instead I remember that it is always the thought that counts the most.

I remember making homemade gifts. I remember one Christmas several years ago when we had so little money that all I could do was write my kids Christmas notes, telling them how much I appreciated them. I told them the truth and admitted that this was the best I could do right now. It didn’t feel good at the time because I wanted to give more, but as I look back on it, I see I was doing the best I could do. It was the thought of wanting to give that mattered.

I believe that the gift of giving is really for us. When we give, it awakens the power of gratitude within us for others. No matter what we give, even if it is a note, or a phone call long overdue, we should hold our heads high and give with all the love that we truly are. It will be felt and that is all that matters.

Love is really the gift and many of us need a lot of that right now. The pandemic has separated many of us, but we never have to be separated if we continue to give the gift of ourselves. It doesn’t cost anything and no matter how it is received, always remember the giving is about you and how big your heart is open to that giving.

This year I have a little more to spend on gifts, but still I can feel it is not enough. However, that little girl that went shopping at the dime store came back to remind me that it is always the thought that counts and my love is always more than enough.

Love and Aloha,

Rev. Rita

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