American Legion BANNER MAY17 V4

Cheryl Copeland

Cheryl's Adventure - 
The gift of time
By Cheryl Copeland

Christmas season has returned!  Sparkling lights are strung.  Beautiful wreaths are hung.  Holiday music fills the air.  Every little gift is wrapped with care.  Let the hustle and bustle of the season take hold.  But, wait!  There’s a greater story that must be told!  

Christmas always brings about the most dazzling decorations, magical music, and fabulous family traditions - but nothing can compare to having received the most precious gift of all.  Time!

It’s a given fact that time cannot physically be wrapped up into a gorgeous package and placed under a tree, nor can it be bought and given away like the year’s top trending gift.  So what is the gift of time?

As a cancer survivor I wake up each and every day and thank God, my creator, for another sunrise – the gift of more time!  In retrospect, I understand that my time before cancer was a gift as well – but in those days I was simply unaware of the value of the present. 

Cancer clearly opened my eyes to the preciousness of time.  Speaking of time, I can still hear the words from Mrs. Walker, my 7th grade teacher, as she shares with my parents during a conference that I need to “Use Time Wisely.” I know it has been 25 years since I last heard this advice, but I hope she is pleased to know that my family is focusing on her words of wisdom as we continue to Pay Forward our gift of time and use it wisely!

Yes, Christmas is the Season of Giving, but nowhere in the fine print does it say that you must give tangible gifts.  When I was in my twenties my family decided to forgo the traditional Christmas present exchange.  We gathered around the Christmas tree in our pajamas, but rather than opening up presents we shared sweet stories of how we had given others our gift of time.  

Honestly, if I were asked to recall what my sister gave me for Christmas fifteen years ago, I would draw a blank.  I could, however, describe in full detail the evening that we spent together making gingerbread houses and ornaments with the children at the Battered Women’s & Children’s Shelter.  I also remember the excitement of my friends as they were informed of their free night of unlimited babysitting during the month of December.  

Since that particular Christmas we have exchanged gifts, but we never stopped finding ways to give the gift of our time to others – this can include helping family, friends, strangers and any organization that welcomes volunteers.  

From our family to yours, may you have a very Merry Christmas! Remember: “Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  TODAY is a gift from God, which is why we call it a Present!”  When reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas and celebrating the birth of our Savior, let us also remember how Jesus demonstrated how to love and serve others. 


Cheryl Copeland is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about life’s lessons and her personal adventure with breast cancer. 

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