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Every year I go through a wishful thinking stage as Christmas approaches. I’m not wishing for gifts but rather for traditions that my person and I can participate in and build on each year, traditions that mean something special to us.

As a child, I was one of four children until my parents adopted two more boys. And then we were six! It was pretty awesome being part of a large family. Each Christmas, our parents would put a sheet of paper up for us kids to write the list of gifts that we wanted from Santa. Because we were a large family and my parents weren’t made of money, we each got something that was on our list, but certainly not everything.

My parents had stockings made with our names on them and they hung them up each year. We’d always get oranges and nuts in the shells. As we got older, we wanted more chocolate! There were always small things that were fun to open but didn’t cost my parents a fortune. Often, we’d end up with socks and underwear as gifts when we needed those items anyway. I guess it was economical to replace those things during the holidays and kill two birds (partridges?) with one stone.

Then there were times when we’d drive from Maryland all the way across the United States to Loma Linda, California, to visit our maternal grandparents. My father drove a Ford van. To fit us all in, he’d lay a sheet of plywood over the wheel wells and throw down a full-size mattress so we kids could sleep while our parents did the driving. Our luggage would slide underneath the plywood and this made for a great way to travel with a half dozen kids in tow.

One particular Christmas trip to California I will never forget. My mom bought and wrapped a small gift for each of us for every day we were on the road. Every day we were allowed to open one gift. The gifts were things like wire puzzles that you need to figure out how to get them apart, a tiny notebook and pencil, a miniature book to read, or a Hot Wheels car. They were all small and I’m quite sure inexpensive; but the excitement of opening a little gift each day while we were traveling, playing with the toys, and sharing them with each other was just the best idea to keep us occupied and happy. And it brought me such joy! I’m sure the anticipation of what the next day might bring was part of it as well.

I bet we all have a special memory of a past Christmas or a gift that brought us particular joy. I also know that I truly love giving gifts to those I love and to those I can help. To this day, I look for opportunities to bring a little happiness to other people.

One gift I give myself is contributing my time, energy, money, and love to Kinship. Yet it’s the one gift that keeps giving back to me; because of you and our community, I reap the benefits of what I give away.

My Kinship family has my heart. If Kinship means something to you, too, please consider giving of your time, energy, your love, and, as the year comes to a close, perhaps a special donation as well. After all, while it’s more blessed to give than to receive, I know that by giving, you will receive, too.

I hope your holiday brings you much joy and happiness!

Yolanda Elliott
SDA Kinship International
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