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Greatest Gifts of All

Greatest_GiftClarksville, TN – Christmas is the time of year when we should give some serious thought to the process of giving and what it really means to show our love to others.

I suspect that if most of us tried to remember the best gifts we’ve ever received, we’d find that many of them didn’t necessarily cost a great deal of money. Instead they had a lovely share of thoughtfulness behind them.

One of the gifts I received that I’ll never forget was from a blind man who sat for several hours at his tape recorder and taped for me music he believed I’d enjoy and some of his own words about what my friendship for him had meant. Another gift I’ll never forget came from a student and her mother who made a CD of favorite Christmas songs for me. I listen to that CD in my car every Christmas because it has so many classics like Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” and James Taylor’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Other gifts I’ve received are on a different scale.

Jesus in the Manger

The love of my family is beyond any monetary gift I’ll ever have. My parents sent

me to college and paid my way, except for a couple of small scholarships I received, so that I could study full time. Neither of them ever was able to go to college, but they sacrificed so that I would have the education I needed to take care of myself. They did the same for my brother Charles. That’s just one example of the hundreds of things my parents have given both of us throughout our lives.

I come from a large extended family. The love we have for each other gives each of us the freedom to be ourselves with the comfort of knowing that we are all there for each other when the situation demands it. I have cousins I don’t see for long periods of time but when we get together, it’s just as if we were never apart.

My husband has given me the courage to stand up for myself. I was a victim in many ways before I met him. Bill taught me that you do not have to give in to the demands of others, especially if they are taking unfair advantage of you. Of course, he may have created a monster. He now tells people, “If you don’t want to resolve this situation with me, you will have to deal with my wife. She never gives up. She will go to the head of any company in this country and persevere until she wins. You do not want to make her angry!”

Friendship is an amazing gift that never stops giving. Real friends are the ones yo

u can always count on, even if you might not recognize that you need one at that particular moment. Sometimes our friends can see things coming that we are either ignoring or denying that can happen.

The day my first husband and I ended our lives together my car broke down just as the moving van was about to pull out. A friend, who later became the juvenile court judge in Charlottesville, loaned me a car for a couple of weeks until I could get mine running again. I have never forgotten her kindness on one of the most difficult days in my life. I had never lived alone in my life and I was in a state of terror, but she helped me make it through my fears and realize that I could handle the situation.

The gifts of children are those you never forget. Sometimes a little girl or little boy will come up to me before class or in the hallway and hand me a drawing painstakingly created just for me. Or occasionally a child will appear with an apple in hand. The sweetest of all are the little ones who look up with real admiration in their eyes and tell you that you’re the greatest or that some day they want to be a music teacher just like you.

The unexpected “pat on the back” is also one of life’s greatest gifts. Chris

Causey, the assistant principal at Greenbrier Middle School, came up to me in the hall the other day and said, “I want you to know how much I appreciate the nice things you said about our school in your column.”

And those who tell me they read the articles I write really fill my heart with joy.

This year when you plan your Christmas list, remember that the price of the gift may be the least important aspect of it. Don’t forget to tell the people who make your life easier how much you appreciate them. The school crossing guard who keeps your children safe, the custodian who makes sure your office or classroom is cleaned every day, the cafeteria workers who feed you daily, the office staff who make sure you’re paid every month, the people who pick up your trash, the postal carrier who delivers your mail, the ladies and gentlemen at the bank who always greet you with a smile, the efficient checkers at the grocery store, the waiters at your favorite place to eat……The list goes on and on because we are a community where we all depend on each other.

None of us can make it through life alon

e. Our ministers remind us of the reason that love is the true meaning of Christmas. We have no reason to fuss over terminology when we truly tap into the source of this great love.

As Saint Paul wrote, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (II Timothy 1:5-7, King James Version) When you think of a tiny baby coming to earth to teach us all to love each other, you can imagine no greater gift at all. No parent who has ever looked into the face of his or her own newborn child can ever surpass those feelings of love and gratitude.

This Christmas just spread a little more love in this world. That’s what everybody really needs after all.

Sue Freeman Culverhouse
Sue Freeman Culverhousehttp://culverhouseart.com/
Author of Tennessee Literary Luminaries: From Cormac McCarthy to Robert Penn Warren (The History Press, 2013) Sue Freeman Culverhouse has been a freelance writer for the past 36 years. Beginning in 1976, she published magazines articles in Americana, Historic Preservation, American Horticulturist, Flower and Garden, The Albemarle Magazine, and many others. Sue is the winner of two Virginia Press Awards in writing. She moved to Springfield, Tennessee in 2003 with her sculptor husband, Bill a retired attorney. Sue has one daughter,  Susan Leigh Miller who teaches poetry and creative writing at Rutgers University. Sue teaches music and writing at Watauga Elementary School in Ridgetop, Tennessee to approximately 500 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. She also publishes a literary magazine each year; all work in the magazine is written and illustrated by the students. Sue writes "Uncommon Sense," a column in the Robertson County Times, which also appears on Clarksville Online. She is the author of "Seven keys to a sucessful life", which is  available on amazon.com and pubishamerica.com; this is a self-help book for all ages.

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