Some gifts don’t have to be wrapped

Published 10:06 pm Friday, December 7, 2012

This time of year it’s hard not to keep the radio dial set to the stations playing non-stop Christmas music. There’s just something about these classic songs that help make the season special and always remind me of Christmases growing up. It may be because they are a set of songs reserved just for this time of year; the same songs we’ve been singing our whole lives that are carefully tucked away until after Thanksgiving has passed and played throughout the month of December.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s Frank Sinatra, Mannheim Steamroller, Mariah Carey or the church choir belting a Christmas cadence, the songs of Christmas never fail to get me in the spirit of the season.

However, it wasn’t Sinatra’s voice that was making spirits bright Friday morning, but rather the voices of nine carolers from the Cahaba Center for Mental Health. The carolers sang songs they had been practicing all year for the staff of the Times-Journal Friday and for visitors of the Cahaba Center’s open house the Wednesday before.

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Lafon Barlow, executive director of the Cahaba Center said listening to the consumers’ Christmas program is just a blessing, and after hearing it myself I can’t help but agree.

“You can feel Christmas in your heart,” Barlow said. “It’s just a blessing to see how much the people that we serve enjoy — they have never lost their childlike wonder of Christmas. Just as far as the spirit of giving and fellowship and being with folks.”

Their songs weren’t pitch perfect and they didn’t wear fancy costumes; they came as they were, humble and full of joy. And when they sang, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” I honestly believed they wanted each of our Christmases to be merry.

As the carolers stood around the keyboard, smiling and singing, they reminded me that the season of giving doesn’t have to mean physical gifts wrapped in shiny packages. There are so many ways to give this season.

The United Way of Selma and Dallas County partners with the American Red Cross, the YMCA, SABRA Sanctuary, the Salvation Army, the Cahaba Center, the Selma Area Food Bank and several other agencies throughout the county. They work to do so many good things, a few of which include working to keep kids off the streets, feed the hungry, stop domestic violence, improve health and provide positive role models.

These agencies are a vital part of our community that provide for programs like the Cahaba Center’s carolers. Let us as a community, remember that this is the season of giving. Let us not forget those who provide our county with some of the greatest community resources. And let us not forget that our gifts don’t have to be wrapped in shiny bows. Let’s give back this season.