Dec 8, 2021



The holiday season starts at Halloween. At least it always did in our house growing up. The anticipation of what was to come in the next three months was palatable. My sister and I were convinced that school was a deliberate attempt by parents to keep us out of their hair so they could get things done. My classmates felt the same. We were all too excited to focus on anything as mundane as Math or Social Studies when there were more important things to be concerned about. Like, “What are you going as for Halloween?”, “Did you make your list for Santa?”, “ Did you go to Grandma and Grandpa’s for Thanksgiving?”, “ Think it will snow?”.

Let’s face it, For most of us growing up, “Gratitude” was not really a priority. Our parents would talk to us about being Thankful for our Blessings, reminding us that there were others not as fortunate. And we would all sit, quietly “listening,” while secretly thinking about the Christmas tree, candy, skating, snow, school being closed. It wasn’t that we didn’t care about others. But for a child, unless it exists in our small universe, it was just too abstract an idea.

My parents made sure my sister Maggie and I understood. Every Christmas, after the flurry of gift-giving and house parties, we would make our annual trip to the Angel Guardian Home, which was an orphanage in Brooklyn. Having gone through all our toys, Maggie and I would put into 2, sometimes 4, shopping bags, toys we no longer played with or were gently used. Since we were the only two children in the family (until my cousin D.J. came along when we were 10 and 11), we were always getting toys, dolls, tea sets, etc.

Santa was very good to us. And we knew it. Bringing those toys to the orphanage… in our young child way of thinking, brought that message home loud and clear.

My Mom, Dad, and Maggie are all gone now. And the holidays are difficult. And different. But what has remained for me this late in life, is that sense of gratitude for all that I had. And all that I continue to be blessed with in my life.

If I had not learned to appreciate and be grateful for all the small things, I truly believe I would not be able to appreciate all the big things.

So as the holidays roll around again, my wish for everyone is that we ALL learn to appreciate and be grateful for the small things in our lives.

They are, in many ways, the foundation for the wonderful, sad, and exciting experiences and people that are waiting for us all.

And for that, my heart is filled with gratitude.

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