December 2008, Issue 7
Leave More Than a Gift, Leave a Legacy!
January 1, 1970Dear Friends,
Christmas is coming! Each Advent I re-read A Christmas Longing by Joni Eareckson Tada. The book includes Joni’s writings on Christmas along with her art. A quadriplegic who paints by clenching a paintbrush between her teeth, Joni is leaving quite a legacy.
That’s what I would like to write about this month—leaving a legacy. Author Rachel Freed calls legacies the footprints we leave behind. I like that. Others will place their feet in our footprints and continue the journey. However, if we don’t take time to think about our legacies, we may miss wonderful opportunities to make a difference in the lives of those we love.
Instead of devoting much time and thought to finding the right gift for someone this Christmas, consider giving a gift that shares who you are. Here are six ways you might do that.
1. Fill out a memory book. Purchased memory books offer formats to share snippets of things that are interesting and important to us. My grandchildren’s memory books tell them what I was doing when I heard that President Kennedy had been shot (teaching a shorthand class in Alexandria, Virginia). They tell about my childhood and how important my faith is to me. If you don't have time to fill one out this year, get started for next.
2. But you need not buy a memory book. You can simply write one-page memories. I’ve written “Persons, Places and Things: Memories From the 1940s and 1950s That Molded My Life” to share with my family. At the top of each page I’ve recorded a message that I received from the experience at the time. After writing a 250-word story, I challenge the reader with a closing question and a scripture verse. For example, I want my grandchildren to know that just as the churning of milk in a butter churn produced butter when I was a child, so there are consequences, both book and bad, that come from the things we do. The question I pose is: Will my words and deeds today produce sweet or sour consequences? My website (www.shirleybrosius.com) includes a Tip Sheet on writing such memoirs (Please visit since I recently updated my photos, including some from the skits we do as Friends of the Heart).
3. Videotape your own or someone else’s legacy. I once interviewed an elderly relative and asked her to share memories. She spoke of pets, Pinky the dog and Benny the pig. She spoke of Christmas when she was a child (no gifts). And she shared how she walked a mile to a one-room schoolhouse.
4. Write a Christmas letter to someone special. In it, you might encourage the recipient to live for God. It’s like extending a blessing to that person as you put on paper the hopes and dreams you hold for them.
5. Give gifts that tell something about yourself. I recently gave sets of hand-embroidered pillowcases to two special couples. They’ve given me similar gifts. Such items represent time and love. Again, you may need to start now to be ready next year.
6. Give gifts that tell something about your faith. Each year my grandchildren feel the shape of a present, roll their eyes and say, “Oh, this is from Nana. Wonder what it might be?” You see, along with other gifts, I always buy them Christian books. There are beautiful picture books for preschoolers, chapter books for early readers and preteen and teen books too. Through them we can encourage young people to make thoughtful choices and live out their faith. For friends, I might choose Christian novels.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas to help you add special meaning to your Christmas. God gave us the gift of His Son Jesus. We may extend that gift to others as we bless them not just with material gifts but with our faith and love as well. This Christmas, let’s leave a legacy!
Have a Blessed Christmas!