Be thankful for those special ‘gifts’ you have this Christmas

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My Views

By Mary Barczak

 In the spirit of Christmas, I think it’s essential to take time to reflect on all of the presents in our lives.

As the day draws near, our minds are filled with gift ideas and holiday engagements (and I am just as guilty), but I encourage you to stop and take a minute to recognize the priceless presents around you -- your parents, siblings, grandparents and friends. Because these can never be replaced once lost.

I’m here to tell you, even though you may think it cliche that you never truly appreciate something or someone until it’s gone from your life.

This year a very special person will be missing from our Christmas celebration.

We lost my mom this past February after about a year and a half battle.

She was such a bright and beautiful woman who loved volunteering, which I hope to instill in my children one day.

I remember how annoyed I used to get when she would drag me to every Girl Scout volunteer opportunity, but now I appreciate her dedication.

She always wanted me to do well and pushed me to be the best version of myself.

One of my fondest Christmas memories is of her making Christmas cookies at a girls home downtown with some of the residents. 

She talked to the women like she’d known them for years and was genuinely happy to be there with them icing cookie sleighs.

I really didn’t grasp how many people’s lives she touched until her accident though. Relatives, friends, co-workers, old acquaintances, parish members all came forward and showed our family so much love. 

And they shared stories. Stories of how my mom continually gave of herself and what little she had to help others. To me, that’s the true meaning of Christmas.

Now my family really wasn’t one of those to say, “I love you” a lot, but now we do because we realize the importance. I wish it wouldn’t have to come to that though.

This Christmas I encourage you to hug your kids, your husband, wife, mother, father, sister and brother and tell them that you love them. 

Because they are more important than any necklace or Xbox One that you’re going to receive this year. 

Take the time to appreciate and spend time with the people that matter most in your life everyday. That’s the best present you can give -- your love, companionship and friendship. And it doesn’t even cost a lot, just some of your time and I promise you it won’t be wasted.

In fact, some of my favorite holiday memories with my parents and siblings didn’t involve lots of money: picking out a Christmas tree, looking at Christmas lights, making Christmas cookies and singing Christmas carols around the Nativity set. Those will always be more special to me than any gift I get.

This year I’m thankful for my strong dad, my four loving sisters, my wonderful boyfriend, amazing co-workers and friends and my puppy. These are the presents God blessed me with.

What are yours?