Charita Goshay: It's not what's under the tree that counts

Charita Goshay

Well, did you get what you wanted?

When you’re a kid, the mere notion that you might not receive a gift for Christmas is heart-stopping. It is not until you become an adult that you get it. When you became a full-fledged human being, you come to understand that Christmas has been hijacked by the hyperbole that has convinced us that no matter how much or what we do, it isn’t enough.

But Christmas isn’t about keeping up with the Clauses. It’s not even about our faith in God, which can ebb and flow like the ocean. It’s about God’s faith in us, and the notion that we are worth redeeming.

When it dawns on you that you can’t even remember what you got for Christmas three years ago, it is then that you realize that it’s not about what you put in the box, but what you put into the lives of those you love.

In time, it becomes clear that the things we want and need can’t be bought, and won’t ever be found under a tree. They’re the gifts already given, the irreplaceable blessings of life, health, family and good friends.

Debt of love

And even though we know this to be true, many of us still run around, frantically plunging ourselves into the abyss of debt, trying to impress people who already love us even if we never bought them another thing in life.

The only obligation we should willingly take on at Christmas time is the debt of love. One of the open secrets about this time of year is that not everyone’s holiday will resemble a Hallmark card. There are people all around us who are emotional castaways trapped on islands of isolation, disappointment and depression. For the lonely, the holidays only serve to deepen their despair, rendering them near-ghosts, barely noticed among the tinsel and lights.

We pass through the lives of such people and never see their pain, mostly because doing so conjures up our own fears.

A smile, a nod or a phone call doesn’t cost a thing, yet it may be the most priceless gift they receive this season.

It’s blessed to receive, too

Do you hear what I hear?

It’s the sound of voters, furious at the news that Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson and 5th District Court of Appeals Judge William B. Hoffman may retire before their terms expire, then run for re-election. If they’re successful, they’ll net themselves two checks, a practice that has been derisively tagged as double-dipping.

While such a practice doesn’t violate the letter of the law, it certainly makes a mockery of its spirit, which was intended to retain experienced teachers retiring from public-school systems. Even though the money belongs to Swanson and Hoffman, voters unconcerned with the facts could bite them in the ballot box, but let’s be honest – who among us would turn down the chance to acquire two checks for doing one job, particularly if the Ohio Legislature makes it possible?

Reach Repository writer Charita Goshay at (330) 580-8313 or e-mail