Columnist: Three simple letters — JOY

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 17, 2015

Lynn Walker Gendusa

Contributing columnist

The other day I was hanging my Christmas wreaths on my windows, and I noticed they looked just too simple, too average and too bland. What could I do creative to get these wreaths to come alive?

I traveled to Hobby Lobby to look around and found the perfect thing! Three letters in glittering gold: JOY.

I took my find home and hung the word from red and gold ribbon on my boring wreaths. The sun caught the glittering word, and, by gosh, those wreaths became joyful!

Christmas is about the things we care about the most. God, family, friends and laughter. It is about giving to those we love and giving to those we don’t even know. It’s about doing too much, getting tired and being a part of a crowd. It is about children and make believe. It is about glitter, ribbon, wreaths and wrapping paper. It is about joy.

Joy is a spreading word. When someone is joyful it makes everyone want to be joyful too. I knew a woman once named Joy Valentine. Now, that is a great name! Joy was joyful with an infectious spirit that would light up a room. She wore her name well.

In our world today sometimes we search for finding things that make us happy but really don’t make us joyful. There is a difference. Happiness is harder to spread because it is in inward, but joy radiates outward.

Long ago in a high school there was a young girl who wore a beautiful coat. It was a special gift from her mother who normally was very frugal. However, this extravagant gift was made from the finest camel hair and lamb’s wool.

The coat was so unusual with its slight heather plaid of earth tones and luxurious chocolate fur lining, that every time the 17 year old wore it there were compliments. The gift always kept her soul and body warm.

One day, the girl heard a story of a younger girl that went to her same school. It seems young Sara had lost her mother and she was left to take care of an alcoholic father as well as a younger brother. To say there was much weight on Sara’s slim shoulders would be an understatement.

Sara was a pretty girl with long blond hair and a face like an angel. She was too young to seek actual employment, but she would babysit and do odd jobs all the time. She desperately needed a winter coat. She had been putting away money for a long time in bits and pieces to buy the most modest coat she could find.

The winter winds were picking up and she would wrap up in sweaters to go to school. Finally, she thought excitedly, “this weekend, I will buy my coat and I pray I have enough money!”

Saturday came and she went to get her money from the old cabinet in the hall where she had it hidden. The bits and pieces of hard-earned change and bills stashed in an old tin can.

When she opened the cabinet door the can was gone! She searched and searched the shelves as hot tears started to torch her face.

She knew her daddy had found Sara’s savings and she knew what he used it for. And, sadly, she was right. He lay passed out in the old chair in the living room.

Upon hearing word of Sara’s story, the girl with the beautiful coat slowly slid it off her shoulders. The cool air stinging her bare skin as she handed it to a friend that lived close to Sara.

“Please, put it in a beautiful box, and lay it on her porch on Christmas morning”, she instructed.

“Won’t your mother be upset that you are doing this?” her friend asked.

“Maybe for a bit, but I think she will understand. You see, her buying me the coat made us happy, but me giving it away will give us joy.

Sara never knew where the coat came from and the girls never met. The mother did understand and bought her daughter the most modest coat she could find. However, all thought, “it was the best Christmas ever.”

My Christmas wreaths became new by adding joy. For those of you that think Christmas is too commercialized, too tiring, too much trouble and can’t wait for it to be over, try finding your own joy and then give it away to someone who needs it. Your Christmas will be alive and new again just like my wreaths and the spirit of two teenage girls long ago.

Christmas is Christmas because an angel appeared and said, “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy!”

What a wonderful word.

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former LaGrange resident who currently resides in Roswell.