What a bizarre holiday season this is shaping up to be. Is it just me, or is there a big black cloud hanging over all of us?

We hear the stories every daya neighbor who lost his job; the contractor whos hurting for business and cant afford to gas up his truck; the aging parents who worked hard their whole lives, but just lost half of their retirement.

One might think that 9/11 would have inspired more despair than a recession would. Yet, even then, the message was a positive one: Go out and spend money. Today, on the other hand, were inundated with tips on how to save moneyshoot your own turkey, craft your own ornaments, make your next party a pot-luck. Enough already!

I know the economy is hurting. And, no, it doesnt fill me with joy when I drive down the street and see yards decorated with foreclosure signs rather than reindeer and twinkling white lights; but its certainly not cause to cancel Christmas. If anything, its an opportunity to reclaim it.

When I was growing up, my family had next to nothing. There was no Lexus in the driveway and no master bath with double sinks. On the contrary, back then, in our house, your basic juice box would have been considered a luxury item. Yet, despite our povertyand, all joking aside, we were flat brokeI never felt poor on Christmas. Never.

Maybe it was foolish and wasteful, but my mom always made sure that unwrapping presents was an all-day affair. Whats more, I got everything I wanted, every year. And, you know what? It didnt make me spoiled, and it didnt make me feel entitled. Rather, it made me hopeful, and it made me a hard worker because I wanted to grow up and live in a world where every day felt like Christmas morning.

And, for a long time, it did.

Weve been riding a wave of good fortune for years now. As a nation, our standard of living has
skyrocketed over these past few decades. Perhaps weve gotten so used to having so much that weve forgotten what its like to really want for anything, much less to truly marvel at any one giftor, in this case, at any one day.

I hope the recent turn of events will put things back in perspective and make the holidays a special time again. No matter how hard our family is hit by the economy, there will be presents under my treenot because we need more stuff, but rather, because of what those things symbolize; namely, hope for a better tomorrow.

My mother saved and scrimped and had to listen to me cry about carrying a thermos 364 days out of the year so that she could give me that one day where I felt like the richest, luckiest little girl on earth. The example that she set in doing so was the greatest gift she ever could have given me. Whats more, its an enduring one that I intend to pass on to my own children, no matter how much misfortune we face.

Happy Holidays!

Vol. No: 145:12Issue: 12/15/2008