Archived Story

Salisbury: Best gifts aren’t always wrapped

Published 1:54pm Friday, December 7, 2012

A Journey of Reinvention

By STEPHANIE SALISBURY

I’m suspicious. The precipitation is coming in frozen form, and there’s something on my mind.

I’ve been wary of this for decades now, as you might also have been, so let’s discuss it:  How do we truly know that no two snowflakes are alike? I mean, who’s out there checking, really?

I suppose we’ll have to take it on faith, just as we do the whole ‘no two fingerprints are alike’ malarkey. It makes you wonder, though, doesn’t it? I’m talking about the parallels between snowflakes and humans.  Each one is individually unique, handcrafted by a master creator, to fulfill a purpose.

The Scrooge in us on our worst days likes to think that snow has no purpose.

The beauty and majesty of the white flakes is often ruined by mud, slush, road salt, car accidents, slow traffic frustration, horrific temperatures and the mysterious ‘yellow snow’ that intermittently appears behind dogs, but the changing of the season doesn’t have to be quite so negative.

If we approach the December morning dreading our commute, cranky at having to wake up early to compensate for the icy roads, and hollering at other drivers who obviously aren’t as keenly aware of how to navigate the black ice as we are, then we’re likely not to revel in the joys of the season. We will not take advantage of the adrenaline rush of a snowball fight with our teenage kids. We will miss out on the joy of laying backward in the snow with our 3- and six-year-olds, flapping our arms to make different perfectly shaped angels on the ground.  We won’t feel the exciting tug in our belly when we glide down the hill on a sled, or across a frozen field on a snowmobile, knowing that at the end of the day, we’re going home to a warm house and a cup of hot cocoa.

The same is true for our outlook on humanity. If we approach the day with resentment that we have to get up for work, angry at our spouse for not having picked up their dirty laundry, yelling at our kids to move out of the way because we’re late and upset with life for not having panned out the way we expected, then we’re likely not to notice the blessings we do have. Such simple things that we take for granted every day — family, heat, food, clean water — are luxuries that some people have never experienced.

It’s at this time of year that many of us become obsessed with what to get people for Christmas. I could go on my usual tirade about materialism here, but I will forego that and choose instead to encourage each and every one of us to, in addition to whatever gifts we might decide upon, spend some time placing blessings on others as well.

Read to your kids, play board games, actually listen when they talk about their day. Hold your spouse’s hand when you walk down the street, even if you haven’t done so in 20 years. Visit a senior care facility and ask residents questions about their past. Visit your parents and tell them how much you appreciate everything they did, or tried to do, for you.  Volunteer to babysit for a young couple so they can go out. Forgive people who have hurt you, even if they don’t deserve it. Find a friend you were close to when you were young, share stories about things you enjoyed together and catch up on life.

After 35 Christmases, I’ve learned that sometimes the greatest gifts can’t be wrapped.

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