The Right Gift
What Makes a Gift “the Right Gift?” is it the financial value of the gift? Is it the practicality of the gift? Sometimes a gift is considered “right” if it is wrapped with a genuine, pure motive in the heart of the giver.
I recently heard a story of a man that punished his 3-year old daughter for wasting a roll of wrapping paper at Christmas time. Money was tight and he became infuriated when his daughter tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree. Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and gave it to him. He was immediately embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but allowed his anger to flare again when he opened the box and found that it was empty. He yelled at his little girl telling her that “there has to be something in the box for it to be considered a gift.” His three year old looked up at him with her voice trembling and tears in her eyes and said, “Oh, Daddy, it is not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you Daddy.”
As we can see from this story, the gift may come in the form of an empty box, but the motive behind it is what makes it the right gift. It may not measure up to our material expectations but the love behind it is what makes it irreplaceable.
Christmas has always been a time for giving. A time of searching for the “the right gift.” However, this year, just like every other year, millions of people will open gifts, that aren’t necessarily “the right gift.” Some gifts won’t fit. Some will be the wrong color. Many will be returned or exchanged. But there’s one gift that meets everyone’s need, one gift that will never wear out, never break or need repairing. A gift that is appropriate for a small child, a teenager, an adult, or a senior citizen. Boy or girl, man or woman, it makes no difference. The gift we all need is found behind the true meaning of Christmas.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner I am reminded of a situation I encountered several years ago. I was sitting outside a medical building waiting for my wife and daughter to finish an appointment at the pediatrician’s office. As I waited, I saw a cute boy around four years old on crutches exiting the building with his mother. They walked to their car and the mother opened the back door for the boy to climb in. As he was getting situated, he fell to the floorboard of the car, but he quickly picked himself up and got back into his seat. As I watched this entire situation unfold, I suddenly became so thankful of the simple, everyday things we take for granted. You see, the boy was hobbling on crutches not because he had a cast, but because he didn’t have a right leg. Too many times it is easy to focus on the negatives and not the positives. When you compare your difficulties to what others are going through, you suddenly realize how fortunate you are. I thought for sure when the mother and son got to the car, she would help him get in. No way! He wasn’t going to let a minor setback in life slow him down. He did it on his own.
How many times in life do we let a small headache, lack of sleep or a difficult situation ruin our day? The next time you’re having a “bad day,” bend one leg behind you, wrap it several times with duct tape and leave it that way for 24 hours. There’s no doubt that would help each of us keep things in perspective and remind us of how thankful we all should truly be.
Thanksgiving (or celebrating with thankfulness) isn’t something the Pilgrims invented. It has been a part of the world from the very beginning. Let’s take a look at a couple attributes of a THANKFUL person.
The THANKFUL person is grateful for what they have, not bitter about what they don’t have. They try to look for the good in every situation. Have you ever been around that kind of person?
- It’s raining: “Oh, good! This is going to make the flowers grow!”
- They have a flat tire: “Thank God it happened on this residential street and not the freeway!”
They are so positive! How many of you could use a shot of this in your life! The THANKFUL person counts every day as a blessing regardless of the circumstances. They are not moved by what they see. How can they be thankful even when things go wrong? Because they don’t live based upon circumstances, but based upon their Faith in the future and the promises they believe in.
The questions for all of us this Thanksgiving are pretty simple… What kind of person are you? What kind of person do you want to be? Do you need to make an adjustment? This month I have a Thanksgiving homework project for you to do. Before midnight on Thanksgiving Day, I want you to thank every family member and close personal friend for something they have done for you over the past year. You’ll be amazed at what this does for your relationships!
Every month I write a blog and many of them concerning the desperate state of America’s youth and the need for our character education assembly programs in schools. The reason we continue to try and inform people of this need is because of what we are seeing in the youth of our nation’s public school systems. I often wonder if people realize what our children and grand children are being exposed to. I will try and give you a glimpse through my next two blogs.
Brian Graden, MTV’s president of programming said: “I can’t help but be worried that we are throwing so much at young adults so fast. And that there is no amount of preparation or education or even love that you could give a child to be ready.”
Today’s Teens Targeted and Exploited…
- Advertising to teens is an estimated $150 billion a year industry.
- Nearly 61% of all television programming contains violence, with children’s programming being the most violent.
- MTV is watched by 73% of boys and 78% of girls ages 12 to 19, and it is profoundly influential in the lives of its young fans by glamorizing drug and alcohol use, sexual promiscuity and violent behavior.
- MTV airs 9 sexual scenes per hour and more than 8 un-bleeped profanities per hour.
- One in five children ages 10-17 that regularly use the Internet has received a sexual solicitation while online.
- One in four children were unwillingly exposed to images of naked people or people having sex.
- 90% of 8-16-year-olds have seen pornography online, most while doing homework.
- 80% of 15-17-year-olds have had multiple hard-core pornographic exposures.
Today’s Teens and Sex…
- 34 percent of young women become pregnant at least once before they reach the age of 20Ñabout 820,000 a year.
- Approximately four million teens contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) each year.
- 8,000 teenagers contract an STD every day.
- An estimated half of all new HIV infections occur in people under age 25.
A Huge Task…
As you can see, we have a huge task in front of us to partner with educators across America in our effort to instill principles, values, and ethics that will somehow cut through all the wrong messages being sent to our young people today. As we launch into another year of school assemblies, we need your help now more than ever to truly make a difference in this generation of students. Our schools are the fountainhead from which will come nearly every future business person, lawmaker, school teacher, and parent in America. As we invest in them today, we are building a better America for tomorrow-one school at a time!
The statistics are overwhelming. A noticeable lack of respect, integrity, and leadership is what seems to be defining this generation of students. Imagine an America where truth is relative…where tolerance means silence…where concern over the trivial dominates the TV media (reality shows). While we’ve certainly seen a decline in morality in America over the last 40 years, I believe that we are on the verge of an unprecedented shift in the ethical climate of our nation. Some people have even said that what I do through speaking to students is really just fighting an uphill battle; that there’s no way we can make a real difference. I guess that we could use that as an excuse and say they’re right, and accept the fact that there is no possible way to see true change in the character of today’s teens. Fortunately, we have the audacity to believe that this change is possible and the future can be bright for our Nations youth.
As I look at history, however, no one was ever remembered for accepting the status quo or simply taking a back seat when they saw an injustice. No, history remembers those who chose to stand up while others sat down, to speak up when others were silent, and to sacrifice while others were sulking. What if today, we decided to stand up for truth, speak up against injustice, and make a sacrifice that will launch the next generation toward their dreams instead of complaining about what we don’t have? Every indisputably great person who changed the course of history had these incredible qualities.
Many people say that this generation of teenagers is a lost generation. No other generation in history has been so plagued by drugs, alcohol, sex, bullying, and greed at such a young age. Everyone knows something terrible has happened in the social development of today’s youth. Crime and violence have become so common that many schools throughout the country have metal detectors installed at the entrances. The reality is our culture has become so tolerant that it is inadvertently creating a perversion of our youth and the downward spiral has become blatantly obvious.
Our entire society is experiencing an ethical collapse and this collapse has become so urgent that most leaders in education acknowledge that our foundations are being threatened. Our nations’ media and entertainment outlets seem to be more concerned about ratings than the effects their programs are having on our teenagers. You have to wonder what kind of world we are living in where many of our country’s leaders look the other way while these destructive ideals are being pushed on our youth. So many of our young people have been robbed of all moral concepts.
We all should be burdened by what we see and motivated to play a part in initiating change to inspire our youth through character development. It’s time we take responsibility and give of our time, resources, and talents to instill the time-tested results that good character traits provide. Test scores are important, but infusing personal character development into the daily academic routine for students is ultimately what will address these areas of need and create a better society for the future.