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The best gift is a tribute

Some of you may recall me writing a few times about my Granddaddy, who passed away when I was just a kid. This week I had the opportunity to honor his memory by donating to Lights of Love.

Every year around the holidays, people are hounded with letters or knocks on the door asking for money or donations for various organizations. It can seem overwhelming; you don’t want to seem like Scrooge, but you can’t give to everything. You have to prioritize what seems important to you.

When I first began working at The Post- Searchlight, I did a story on Operation Christmas Child and the shoeboxes that generous individuals pack each year. The story impacted me and reminded me of when my sister and I were little and we would pack a shoebox in our Sunday school ministries. I decided that this was one of the organizations I wanted to donate my time and money to. It brings me great joy to shop the kid aisles and pick out a small baby doll or stuffed animal to send to a child who may otherwise not have one. I know I can’t give as much as some, but even if it’s only one box, it’s one more kid getting a gift.

Following the shoeboxes, I got an email about Lights of Love from the hospital in my hometown of Albany.

Every year they have a giant Christmas tree filled to the brim with lights and an honored guest who lights the tree. All the lights are in honor or in memory of someone who is currently battling, has fought or has lost their battle with cancer.

I donated in memory of my Granddaddy who lost his battle in 2000. I felt a calling to this specific organization, because not only is it close to my heart, but especially at Christmas. He cannot be here with me to open gifts anymore or play Santa, but I hope he knows we could never replace his presence on this holiday or any other.

This year the honored guest is a teacher from my high school, so it seemed more important than ever.

Cancer has affected my life in more ways than one. I’ve seen my friends fight through it, my Gran- Gran and my Popeye, but they are all warriors in my eyes. I can’t begin to tell them how strong I think they are, because words don’t’ adequately describe it, but I hope they know this light tribute is my way of saying “I love you to the treetopper and back.”

It’s hard to find a way to give at Christmas, and it’s easy to delete all those pesky donation emails, but maybe one will impact you in a way you didn’t expect. See if this season you can find a way to honor those not with you and still give back. You wont’ be sorry you did.