Seeing gas prices drop has been a blessing. It’s not just the price of gasoline that skyrocketed. Rent, mortgage rates, retail, travel, and grocery prices steadily climbed as well. While we had much to be grateful for at Thanksgiving, the price of food was alarming. We usually host a large group for the holiday, but scaled back to a maximum of 10 people since 2020 and COVID-19. And we weren’t mad at the family members who traveled out of town this year. Still, with just two guests our dinner for four cost nearly as much as our monthly food budget in 2021.

I was puzzled as people seemed to treat Black Friday and Cyber Monday as though inflation hasn’t reached a 40-year high. It reminded me of how so many people seem to behave as though COVID-19 isn’t still a factor and the numbers aren’t once again on the rise.

Hubby and I have new expenses related to our precious puppy to consider like food, veterinary visits, shots, and other essentials (a crate, bed, harness, leash, carrier, etc.). We also planned to finally resume our annual road trip to a quiet, snow covered town each December after a two-year suspension due to the pandemic. My mind reverted to a 1990s movie where characters repeated the phrase, “Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money!”

Once again there was some scaling back and downsizing. We know the winter holidays are not about the presents and gifts, but rather the gift of presence. Sure, we’d love to shower folks with lavish and impressive gifts, but not to our own financial detriment. We wanted to find a way to gift everyone without overextending ourselves.

I was blessed to come across 2nd Corinthians 8:12: “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” My mother instilled in us that kindness and love are wonderful gifts that bless the recipient mightily without costing the giver a single penny. Of course, we always strive to be kind, generous, and loving, but we can certainly do more.

So perhaps loved ones will receive homemade cookies or help removing and packing their holiday decorations instead of a material gift. Maybe I’ll crochet a hat or scarf instead of buying them one; or gift a coffee date, phone call, or video conference so we can catch up with one another. Whatever they receive, I hope it will be appreciated as it will have come from our hearts. Burt Bacharach famously wrote, “What the word needs now/Is love, sweet love/It’s the only thing/That there’s just too little of.” We’ll add ours to the pile and pray it brings comfort and joy to those around us.

As Heavy D once rapped, “I got nuttin’ but love for you, Baby.” Ooh, and a mask and some sanitizer. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy New Year, and blessings and love to all!