Monday, December 27, 2004
The Gift that Keeps on Giving
I set out to write a jovial, light hearted Christmas wrap up, but somehow with this pensive mood, I think this could get deep. I had an epiphany of sorts this morning, though I hate to abuse that word this time of year. I was thinking about the holiday coming and going in the blink of an eye this year, as it does most. Once I start thinking, look out. You never know where my mind will wander.

I came into this holiday season with such doubts. I did not know how I would feel after surgery, I didn't know what kind of results to expect, and, frankly, it has been a year of great peaks and valleys. I wasn't sure where Christmas would land, a peak or a valley. I started to think about all the people who couldn't celebrate Christmas for whatever reason, whether it be for health reasons, emotional reasons, war, separation from loved ones . . . . To continue the list would be exhausting. I started to understand that no matter how I felt post surgery or what my results were, I had so very much to celebrate this year. Once I made the decision to be joyous, the bells started jingling and the star in the east seemed to shine brighter and brighter.

I heard a young man being interviewed on the local news today. He was at a mall returning presents. He said, and I paraphrase ever so slightly, "first I run around getting all this junk to pass out and then I have to take all the junk I got from other people and return it to get something I really want." The reporter even asked him about his use of the word "junk" to which he replied, "Well, stuff. . . gifts." It seemed the term "gift" wasn't even an afterthought, but an after, afterthought. Why does Christmas make people think they are entitled to receive anything. Truly it is a season about giving and about love. Obviously when one person gives, another receives, so perhaps receiving is an implied part of the season. It shouldn't be the focus.

This is the year that I gave the least, but received the most. I wasn't able to bake or pick out all the little things that I usually do, and I wasn't able to shop for fancy gifts. This year I was just able to be present. I talked with each member of my family near and far, I had the chance to spend time with my dearest friends, I was able to visit with friends and co-workers at our annual Christmas party, and this year we had the wonderful opportunity to spend more time with family that we don't see as frequently as in the past. There was so much laughter and joy and celebration. And yes, there were gifts as well, but it surely wasn't the focus. It was a wonderful holiday. Like the song says, the greatest gift I got this year was life. Nothing is more precious than that.

While I am all snug in the glow of family and holidays, I can't help but mention the devastation in Asia. My heart breaks for the many thousands of people who have lost loved ones in the earthquake and the tsunami. I found this information on for anyone interested in helping out rescue and recovery efforts:

Financial support is the best form of assistance those wishing to help can provide. You can help those affected by this crisis and countless others around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance, and other support to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the International Response Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
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Name: Jeannette
Location: Southern California, USA

This is my story about being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39. I thought I was out of the woods, but four years late it came back. This is my quest to be a two-time survivor.

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