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The Gift of Giving

Growing up, our family didn’t have much. My grandpa gave me a green bike when I was 7 years old. It was important enough that I still remember. It was the best Christmas of my youth!

My cousins have a neat tradition that is easy, sentimental and doesn’t cost much outside of time and imagination.

Every year, my aunt and uncle would ask the kids to write down what they wanted for Christmas. These would be anything from “a red Ferrari” to “get married.” Then, my aunt and uncle would have everyone draw a name. The person you drew had to think of a way to make your Christmas wish come true. There were elaborate cardboard box creations made, a red Hot Wheels car purchased, and even a Mrs. Potato Head wedding ceremony. The emphasis wasn’t on the gifts, but on fulfilling each other’s wishes in a creative way to show

you love each other.

When I was young, I was very shy. I literally remember a day in first grade where the teacher came over to me and asked me to leave my book, come out of the corner and join the other kids. I felt like an outsider. I know how it feels to look at a group and think, “if one of them came over and included me, I could feel comfortable.”

As I got more comfortable in social settings (I still love reading books and observing people), I was grateful for people that reached out to me and helped me feel welcome. In turn, I always try to find that person who needs a friend to introduce them, and I never want to leave anyone out. As I have grown up, I have tried to reach out to those who need encouragement. We all have something great to offer and our culture, society, and life is much better when we come together.

I love thinking about what the other person likes and giving them a sentimental gift that didn’t cost much based on things I know about them. For me, Christmas is about remembering others and showing them they are important.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 30.2 million small businesses in the United States. Small businesses have a lot to offer, and we are stronger when we collaborate and pull together. Small businesses have a huge percentage of giving based on their income -- most small companies donate, around six percent of their profits. That is a huge sacrifice, and they feel it’s more important to make a difference than it is to make money. I completely agree.

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