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WHAT SHALL WE GIVE THE CHILDREN?

By Nancy R. Catanchristmas gift for children

This is the season when we are always looking for the “right” gifts – gifts that are stamped with our heartprints, for our children, grandchildren, apo sa tuhod, nieces and nephews plus dozens of cousins, the staff at the office, friends and more friends.
In the midst of the holiday frenzy I always like to take a moment, to sit down and read these lines from a poem that I copied years ago from a 1976 McCall’s Magazine and have treasured ever since.

What shall we give the children?
In the long twilight of the year, the faces of the children grow luminous.
Dreaming, their eyes large, they look and listen, as if they glimpse the peripheries of miracles or hear soundless music in the air.
From the innocent kingdom of implicit belief to that uncomfortable arena where the implacable mind battles the intractable heart, the faces of children at Christmas are lighted with visions of things to come.

What shall we give the children?
It seems certain that they will travel roads we never thought of, navigate strange seas, cross unimagined boundaries and glimpse horizons beyond our power to visualize.
What can we give them to take along?
For the wild shores of Beyond, no toy or bauble will do. It must be something more, constructed of stouter fabric discovered among the cluttered aisles and tinseled bargain counters of experience, winnowed from what little we have learned. It must be devised out of responsibility and profound caring – a homemade present of selfless love.
Everything changes but the landscape of the heart.

child holding handsWhat shall we give the children?
Attention, for one day it will be too late.
A sense of value, the inalienable place of the individual in the scheme of things, with all that accrues to the individual – self-reliance, courage, conviction, self-respect and respect for others.
A sense of humor. Laughter leavens life.
The meaning of discipline. If we falter at discipline, life will do it for us.
The will to work. Satisfying work is the lasting joy.
The talent for sharing, for it is not so much what we give as what we share.
The love of justice. Justice is the bulwark against violence and oppression and the repository of human dignity.
The passion for truth, founded on precept and example. Truth is the beginning of every good thing.
The power of faith, engendered in mutual trust. Life without faith is a dismal dead-end street.
The beacon of hope, which lights all darkness.
The knowledge of being loved beyond demand or reciprocity, praise or blame, for those so loved are never lost.

What shall we give the children?
The open sky, the brown earth, the leafy tree, the golden sand, the blue water, the stars in their courses and the awareness of these.
Birdsong, butterflies, clouds and rainbows. Sunlight, moonlight, firelight.
A large hand reaching down for a small hand, impromptu praise, an unexpected kiss, a straight answer.
The glisten of enthusiasm and a sense of wonder.
Long days to be merry in and nights without fear.
The memory of a good home.

This is what we should give the children!

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