December 22, 2006, - 2:10 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Read the touching op-ed piece on giving loved ones “what they need,” in today’s USA Today by my friend, Capt. James Key, chaplain in the U.S. Army at Fort Irwin, California.
Here are some excerpts:
In 1975, my paternal grandma, Helen McClain, mailed my Christmas gift as she always did. I was expecting a new Hot Wheels track that year, but when I opened the small box on Christmas morning, I quickly realized that she hadn’t granted my wish. Instead, I found a children’s version of the Holy Bible. . . .
For years, this gift didn’t make much sense to me. More than 30 years later, however, I understand Grandma’s rationale. Instead of giving me what I wanted, she gave me what I needed. During some of my most difficult days in Iraq, I found comfort in the word of God. Grandma died of cancer in 1987, but her timeless gift and words remain in my heart and mind today.
As a society, we often spend too much time trying to give our loved ones what they want. This holiday season, video game systems such as PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii have created long lines and short tempers at stores. Many adults will spend hundreds of dollars on these systems. Others have gone a step further, bidding thousands of dollars on eBay to ensure that their child won’t be disappointed on Christmas Day.
My 9-year-old son has told me he wants a PlayStation 3, too. He may or may not get one, but I know what he will get: a children’s version of the Bible. I hope when he grows older and experiences some of the vicissitudes of life, he too will find strength and comfort in this eternal book, as I have. . . .
So what unforgettable gifts will you give people this year? Before you scour the shopping malls and spend hours searching online for that perfect gift, ask yourself: Will it be what they want or what they need? Whatever it is – whether sacred, simple or even frivolous – I hope that the gifts you give loved ones will remain unforgettable in their hearts and minds.
Read Capt. Key’s other inspiring piece from this past Memorial Day.
Tags: California, cancer, Captain, Christmas, Christmas day, Debbie Schlussel Read, eBay, Fort Irwin, Helen McClain, Iraq, James Key, Memorial Day, Nintendo, United States Army, USA Today, video game systems