Geri-Antics: Don’t forget to unwrap your gifts

Published 1:02 pm Thursday, August 10, 2023

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By Anne Carmichael 


As we head full-speed into August, many of my family members will be celebrating the completion of yet another revolution around the sun (birthdays), including my children and two grandchildren.

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In the past, August has been a stressful month for me. Since my retirement, I have lived on a limited budget and can’t afford to buy the gifts I want to give everyone I love.

However, recent events have brought with them the realization that those who mean the most to me in the world have already been given the most precious gift that one can receive profoundly and overwhelmingly.

Every morning for the past 365 days, they have been blessed with the gift of 24 hours of life.

Just this morning, I saw the report of an 18-year-old young man who was the victim of a freak accident while working on a highway construction site. He didn’t receive his gift this morning, nor will his family be blessed with his presence going forward.

In my autobiography, “Finding Joy,” I shared that my adoptive parents (albeit firmly ensconced in middle-class America) raised me as a privileged child. My mother often told me how they had promised God that if He blessed them with a child, they would make it their mission to give the child everything they wanted and needed in life, and they held to their promise throughout their lifetimes. Only after I reached middle age with my own children did I learn that to achieve their lofty goal, they made burdensome and often unnecessary sacrifices. No child needs to receive gifts on Groundhog’s Day.

Although my children’s father was raised more conservatively and learned the value of a dollar, we, in many ways, showered them with the unnecessities of designer clothes and every toy on their Wish List at birthdays and Christmas.

It wasn’t until I began cramming for my finals in these final chapters of my life that I realized it is far more blessed to give than receive. Were I financially able, I’d likely do so until my last breath. But a day rarely goes by that I, even at 72 years of age, don’t learn a lesson from the Book of Life.

This week’s lesson was that many of us don’t appreciate our daily gifts. We take for granted that we’ll wake up tomorrow, just as we did today. We take our gifts for granted day after day. Just as a child who opens socks and underwear on Christmas morning, we rip into the carefully and beautifully wrapped package and merely toss it aside. We use and often abuse our options and fritter away entire segments of our days and revel in “doing nothing.”

Some abuse the temple that houses life (their body) and cloud their minds with drugs or alcohol in an attempt to numb the feelings associated with living.

Others (myself included) feed their feelings by consuming too much or too fattening foods and shorten their lives by clogging their arteries and fostering diseases caused by excess.

This past week, I lost a dear friend to an unexpected malady, and in the past few months and recent years, numerous other friends and family members have succumbed to sudden and unexpected illnesses, reminding me once again that tomorrow is not promised.

I often quote a close relative who says, ‘Every day is a good day if you don’t have a groundhog for a mailman.’

To me, that means that no matter how your day plays out; whether you’re called to deal with one problem upon another; whether the world around you begins to crumble; whether events sadden, anger, or frighten you; you’ve still been given a gift. You’ve been allowed to learn the lessons the day brings and, God willing, you’ll be given another 24 hours to live life to its fullest.

Open the gift. Good or bad. Hurtful or helpful. Accept the gift. Unwrap it. Make the most of it. You might not get another.