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Christmas Gifts

Updated: Feb 11

A child looks into a fish filled aquarium in wonder.

We live now amidst a tornado’s winds: War in the Holy Land, the Ukraine invasion continues to consume us, and anger and mistrust run wild at home. It’s difficult to smile. Yet today we see lights appearing—more colored lights each day— defiantly proclaiming hope. We may be down, they say, but we certainly are not out. The question, then, comes to the part we are supposed to play.

Two weeks ago one of my dogs had serious surgery. The rehabilitation period is six months, so I will not be accompanying my wife as she visits our children who live some 1500 miles away. I don’t intend to wake up on Christmas morning with no one to look at but myself, so I ask aloud just what might I do this year that may make it the best Christmas ever. And in this question lies a great fork in the road: I can answer, “There’s absolutely nothing I can possibly do that will replace being with my family!” Or I can say, “Okay, just what is it I can do?”

The first thing here is for me to believe that there is something I can do. Difficult, for now I am risking failure. Better to say that there is nothing to do, and save myself from certain disappointment. I can’t fail if I don’t try, right? Tempting. But what a waste of my time, of the opportunities that may lie around some corner and just out of sight. I can’t do this, so I take the other road and say, “Fine then, let’s find out.”

So I’ve begun asking the people I trust—the friends who know me—if they will remain on the lookout for those who may need something, someone, to happen during the holidays. I trust them to come up with just the right person or family. To my Veterinarian today I suggested if there is some child who loses a dog and cannot afford a new one, to call me. I spoke with the daughter of my friend who owns a Jeep and truck repair business, and asked her if she knew anyone who might be alone in the coming weeks. She immediately looked off to the side. I knew then that she had just the person in mind, a veteran who has few friends and lives alone with his dog. She will talk with him and see if he, too, is willing to take a chance. I will also visit with the owner of my favorite Mexican restaurant—as I have done during Christmas past—and see who may need a few presents for a child. I will keep thinking, and trusting to what powers may be to bring the haystack to the needle. Makes me smile to say that, but it fits.

In all this there is only one thing to truly overcome, and that’s the fear of failure or, perhaps, the fear of success. To this I will suggest that the only failure is to not try. People are waiting for what it is you have to offer; so believe there is an answer, accept the risk, take a breath, and step out. It’s a thrill really, and the reward is both utterly private and ever so fulfilling. It’s the stuff of the best of Christmases.

And then, for the New Year, consider the same for yourself.

Stanley Odle

1 December 2023

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