By Del Duduit
Christmas time comes at the end of the year and embraces the spirit of giving.
As I grow older, I honestly love to give much more than I do to receive.
The last few years, this has become more apparent. My wife, Angie, will ask me what I want the kids or her family to get me for Christmas.
I honestly have trouble coming up with an answer, because I have been blessed beyond measure, and there isn’t anything that immediately comes to mind. The last several years, the items on my wish list were mysteriously supplied by Max, my dog. But he is gone now, although he was briefly replaced by a cat who has since found a better home.
I’m not hard to buy for or to please. I’ve also learned over the years that it doesn’t help to be specific when I do express a gift idea.
Del: I’d like a gift card for Tim Horton’s coffee.
Family member: I think I’ll get him a Starbucks card. He’s probably never had it and will like it better. WRONG!
Del: I’d like a Greg Norman brand, black long sleeve golf shirt, size XL.
Family member: I think he’ll like this size large white Izod shirt better. WRONG!
In all seriousness, I love to give and will put original and unique thoughts into a special gift. I look forward to seeing the expression on Angie’s face much more than I do when I unwrap a gift for me. That’s because I have usually unwrapped and re-wrapped it back anyway. However, I do miss the gifts from Max because he somehow always knew what I wanted.
My days of expecting have long subsided. Now I anticipate seeing little ones gathered in our home and the eager signs of joy on their faces when they tear into carefully wrapped boxes.
There is really nothing like the feeling you receive when you truly give from your heart.
My friend, Scott Davis is a perfect example.
He and his family own and operate Roger W. Davis Funeral Home in West Portsmouth, Ohio, about 20 minutes from my house.
His father, who started the family business in 1964, instilled a family tradition to gather around a Christmas tree with candles and be thankful.
After his dad died in 1993, Scott and his mother felt the need to continue the tradition, but they also wanted to involve the community.
What better way than to ask friends and family to decorate the 40-foot Evergreen Tree that stands in front of the funeral home? At the same time, they have the opportunity to remember loved ones who have passed.
This Saturday, the Tree of Remembrance will turn 25 years old.
It’s a huge sacred service that portrays the Christmas spirit.
On a crisp winter day in Southern Ohio, about 500 people will make their way to the funeral home grounds and hang ribbons on the tree with their loved ones’ names on them.
At 3 p.m. a table will be set up outside the home with a large box of ribbons and an ornament for each who participate. But people have begun to show up earlier that morning, because the event has become a day when the community becomes one.
Then at 4 p.m. there is a service which features four local ministers who take turns speaking about grief, courage, love, and memories.
After the service, the local fire department helps to hang the ribbons on the massive tree, which remains decorated throughout the Christmas season.
Ironically, the enormous tree itself is dying and will be the site of a memorial next year.
“Since our tradition was so helpful to our family, we looked for a way to help the families we served,” Scott said. “Instead of candles, we use bows. And what better way to help the grieving process than to be with family and loved ones?”
He added the entire day is dedicated to family, community, and giving.
“People bring in cookies and food, and we have coffee and hot chocolate, and a lot of ladies from the community set up and volunteer to pass out bows and angels,” Scott said.
This Saturday, the entire community of West Portsmouth becomes family, as it has the past quarter century.
Grief: I have experienced this. Both my parents are gone, and I hold wonderful thoughts of past Christmas times with them. Mom had to have everyone over to her home to make dinner, and Dad usually fell asleep because he was up all night wrapping 457 gifts (complete with the special red yarn.) That was a good thing, because Mom was not the best cook. Sadness is a part of life and makes me concentrate on and cherish the present and now.
Courage: I have to possess this because others depend on me. There have been times I have wanted to crawl away and hide, but I face reality and strive to be the best husband, father, father-in-law, and now grandfather I can be.
Love: This is essential for survival. I adore my family and friends and try to be an example each day. Sometimes I succeed, while at other times I have missed the mark. But I love them.
Memories: These run rampant during the Christmas season. I remember my first bicycle at Christmas when I was a youngster just as vividly as I recall the My Pillow my son got for me last year. By the way, that’s a fantastic gift! We make memories every day. Do your best to ensure they are treasured and good.
Follow me on Twitter here.
Help someone cope with grief this time of year. Be courageous enough to shine the light on Christ on His day. Show genuine love to people. Create wonderful memories for your family. Give. You might like the warm feeling inside.
I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20: 35)
Scott and his family demonstrate the spirit of Christmas, and they continue to give.
He doesn’t do it for the business or fanfare, but he does it because it is what God’s word instructs to do.
What will you give this Christmas?
For more information visit the Tree of Remembrance Facebook page here.
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.
His first book — BUCKEYE BELIEVER – 40 Days of Devotions for The Ohio State Faithful –can be purchased on Amazon here.