Author: Betty Kuffel, MD
In the face of physical or emotional trauma, for some people resilience wins out. Rising from a low point of anguish, on a trajectory of strength they find the courage and ability to help others along the way to healing.
My dear friend, a concentration camp victim, survived starvation and two years in a camp infested with bugs, rats and cruel guards. Wearing rags, cold, sleeping on bare boards, exposed to disease and death daily, a small collection of female prisoners with little hope found happiness. One of my friend’s many recollections from those terrible years makes her smile when she tells the story. At risk of death, the women wrapped tiny gifts in scraps of cloth tied with strings: a button, a bit of soap, a bite of food. On Christmas Eve, after exchanging their only treasures, in whispered voices they sang carols.
This camaraderie infused strength into their frail bodies helping to generate solidarity. A brighter attitude and gratitude for each other evolved that night during the darkest times.
From her, I have learned one should not worry about giving material objects during the holiday season. We have so much to give that requires no money. As writers, we can share our skills with loved ones, or show gratitude to an individual who has made our lives better. Brighten someone’s day with a visit. Write a poem; write a special story; give copies of your books.
Today, my elderly friend remains resilient and her positive attitude prevails. She continues to set a good example for those around her. One of her favorite sayings is: Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.
The origin is uncertain, the theme is in many sources with variations dating back to 1225.