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The Shawnee News-Star
Finding the sacred in everyday life
Giving is only half of Christmas
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About this blog
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. ...
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Simply Faithful
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. Every day I got to listen as people told me about the things that were most important to them, the things that were sacred. But the newspaper industry was changing and few papers could afford to have an army of speciality reporters. So, I moved to cover the suburbs where, as luck would have it, they have plenty of religion, too. Eventually, children came into the picture. One by birth and another two months later by foster care/adoption. I struggled to chase breaking news and be home at a decent hour, so I made the move to what we journalists call the dark side: I took a job in public relations. (Don't worry. I work for a great non-profit, so it's not dark at all.) When I gave my notice at the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, the executive editor asked me to consider writing a column on a freelance basis. She didn't want the newspaper to lose touch with its religious sources, and she still wanted consistent faith coverage. I was terrified. It took me about 10 months to get back to her with a solid plan and some sample columns. And so it began, this journey of opening up my heart to strangers.\x34
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By simplyfaithful
Dec. 24, 2012 11:20 a.m.

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Growing up with Erb’s Palsy, I often had to ask for help with the little things – the things that would be much easier with two good arms:

French-braiding my hair.

Sharpening my pencils in class.

Fastening necklaces.

By now you’d think I’d be used to it. After all, the nerve damage in my neck and right arm was caused at birth. I’ve never known what it was like to be able to raise my right arm or straighten my wrist.

I was 12 before I figured out a way to put on a pair of pantyhose without help from my mama, and my middle sister drove two hours to hang pictures and curtains in my first apartment. My daddy cut my steak into bite-sized pieces for me the first 29 years of my life, and now my husband discretely slides my plate over at restaurants to do the same.

Still, after all these years, I blush. I’m embarrassed that I need help at all.

I think that’s pretty common, the desire to feel like you have it all together, that you don’t need anything from anyone else – that you are the giver, not the receiver.

IMG_0598In fact we celebrate that idea throughout the end of each year. We gather food baskets for those deemed “needy” and we wrap Christmas gifts for those who are “less fortunate.” We buy presents for our kids, our mailman and our hair stylist because it is, after all, the season of giving.

But is that how it was meant to be? Did God intend for us to give gifts or did he mean for us to accept his gift, the present of love and joy that he wrapped in swaddling clothes and put in a manger?

I suspect he wants us to do both – to experience the feeling of helping others and to know what it is like to be the one who needs a lift. It’s humbling to know that I stumble on my own and must rely on God’s wisdom and grace and the kind shoulders of family and friends. I’d rather focus on being the giver, but that would be celebrating only half of Christmas.

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