The gifting season

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During the festive Christmas and New Year ‘GIFTING SEASON’, we devote so much thought and time  to the gifts we give other people, especially our family and friends.  We think only of ‘things.’  We forget to gift ourselves.  There are so many ‘MAGICAL GIFTS’ that are more valuable than the ‘things’ we purchase. They are ‘within our reach’ and they are ‘free.’
The SPECIAL GIFTS that we can gift ourselves :
(1) EXERCISE : If you exercise, even for 15 minutes a day, you will be healthier, live longer and feel more alert.
(2) YOGA : It confers similar benefits as exercise.  It adds a ‘ZING’ to your step and makes your muscles shed their laziness.
(3) MEDITATION : is invaluable.  It endows you with a peaceful mind, calm demeanour and true ‘inner silence.’  Silence is a powerful gift.  Once you experience true ‘inner silence’ you will want to stay in this state forever.
(4) LEARNING SOMETHING NEW : This gift keeps you younger and more interested in life.
(5) READING : Give this gift not only to yourself, but also to your children.
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(6) PERSONAL HYGIENE : Even small things as brushing your teeth, before bed-time,  can have a great impact on your well-being.  General cleanliness matters a lot.
(7) SMILING : You will be surprised how this gift will make a difference to your life and to the life of others around you.  “Smile, and the world smiles with you,” “If you see someone without a smile, GIVE HIM ONE OF YOURS.”
(8) EMPATHY : This amazing gift broadens your life.
(9) TOLERANCE : We are very quick to take offence.  We are prejudiced against people and things.  We divide the world into “OURS” who can do no wrong and “OTHERS” who can do no right.
(10) ACTIVE CONCERN FOR THE ENVIRONMENT : We can do this not only in a theoretical way, but we should also actively promote good practices such as recycling, water conservation and promoting greenery.
If all of can give ourselves at least some of the “MAGICAL GIFTS”, mentioned above, during the GIFTING SEASON, we will be the richer, and we will also make the lives of others around, beyond any ‘material gifts’ we can give them.  Select your gift, open them with your will-power and revel in them for many happy years to come.
——— Kishore Asthana. 
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A Christmas meditation

If we but had the eyes to see God’s face in every cloud
If we but had the ears to hear His voice above the crowd
If we could feel His gentle touch in every stirring breeze
And find the haven in His arms beneath leafy sheltering trees
We would not need to ponder or ask to understand
For we’d know HE HELD THE ANSWERS IN THE HOLLOW OF HIS HAND.
——- Helen Steiner Rice.
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The sum and substance of Christmas—— celebrating the greatest of God’s gifts : God’s presence as “PERSONAL PRESENT” in God’s Son, Jesus.  Sadly, with the money-making merriment that market forces peddle, the profoundest meaning of Christmas gets eclipsed.  Let’s rewrite the CHRISTMAS STORY.  Every Christmas reminds us that God has not finished with us.  He is still moulding and shaping us like clay, and when He gives the finishing touches, we will be like beautifully crafted pots, ready to hold all the love and beauty that He will pour into us.
Originally Christmas was a happy family feast, when people came home, from far and near, just to be with the family, sharing not just food but also so many memories and experiences.  Today, many people are lonely at Christmas, because they have no one to celebrate the feast with.  For most people, Christmas has become simply a ritual of going to Church in one’s best clothes and a few handshakes at the end of service.
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There are no Christmas carol-singing groups bringing Christmas to our doorsteps.  Many traditions have developed around Christmas —– the mistletoe, the advent candles, the feeling of anticipation, of welcoming a great event —- the birth of Jesus, who is Emmanuel, God with us.  I must be a part of the SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS. —– Even on Christmas Day, there are some families who don’t have enough to eat, no clothes to wear, no shoes for their weary feet, while other families have it all —– Christmas cakes, pudding, roast chicken or turkey ——- sometimes most of which is wasted.  In the so-called Christian countries, in the West, there are homeless people shivering in the dark winter, while other splurge on every conceivable luxury around.
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We have to rewrite the CHRISTMAS STORY.  A real Christmas is sharing from the plenty we have with those who don’t.  A celebration is real only when everybody is included and we are able to be compassionate towards those who are lonely, destitute and unhappy.  Surely, we will bring a smile to their lips and they too will sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”  Thus , it will be truly be a VERY HAPPY & BLESSED CHRISTMAS.”
Inputs from Father Francis Gonsalves an Janina Gomes