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I am very traditional and have extended family in town. It has been a challenge to keep the family traditions going because so many are caught up in the material and functional aspects of the holidays. They stress too much on what to serve and who's coming or not instead of enjoying the time together. I have always been close to my family and friends, so I can also totally relate to appreciating being together with the people you love.

Battling cancer this year, which for me was short but intense, was much less than you had to deal with. I experienced much devotion and care from my medical staff. My family and friends were with me every step of the way. It meant more than words can say. My life changed as well.

I can also relate to the rides needed by friends or family members. My Aunt had a stroke almost 5 years ago and can't drive. Since I live down the street, I call her and take her places at least weekly so she won't have to pay for transportation and so we can spend time together. These are opportunities you can't go back and do once missed.

Thanks for sharing! Happy Holidays to you, your wife and the cats!

Dear Bill,

What a great post! Each year I learn to value more and more the non-traditional gifts.

When my father passed away some years ago, one of the treasures that has meant the most is knowing what he thought about and valued. I love finding the underlined text in his book or his writing in the margins of a page that touched him --- or a clipping of a quote he saved. He left this gift of self for me in leaving these parts of himself to stay with me.

In a box of his little treasures, I found a letter I had written him one year to tell him why I thought he was a great dad. It was the gift he kept in a special place. Obviously, he agreed with this philosophy too.

This experience has helped me be more conscious of the value of what we give from ourselves matters.

Thanks, Bill for writing this to remind us.

Debbe Kennedy

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