Several years ago on Christmas Day, I greedily opened a large box while sitting among family. Inside - buried among the crumpled tissue paper and newsprint - was a single gift certificate from my father.
He'd purchased me a gift certificate to HealthLink, which I promptly scorned.
Allow me to reprint one paragraph from my December 2004 musing:
What in the Hammerin' Hank am I going to do with a gift certificate to HealthLink? Work out? You must be kidding. Yoga? Only if I can get into the bean bag with a sack of potato chips position. Nutritional guidance? I don't think cheese dip and chili dogs are part of their menu.
But that was then.
This is now. And 25 lbs. later.
HealthLink is now the Family Y, and it took a kidnapping to make me finally join.
Miriam - under the guise of running to Kent's for supper one evening a few weeks ago - picked me up from the office and took off. When we stopped in the Family Y parking lot, I knew there would be far fewer milkshakes in my future.
We signed up for sessions with a personal trainer and have already completed a few days of workouts.
And, trust me, I was right when I said I wasn't cut out for it.
I spent much of last weekend doing my best John McCain impersonation: I felt like I couldn't lift my arms above my shoulders. (Which, by the way, made taking pictures at the Thomson High-Jackson football game extra challenging.)
So, logically, I'm going back for more.
The best part of the process so far has been the look of shocked bemusement on the faces of people who see me at the gym or listen to my incessant whining. I'm just glad someone is getting some enjoyment out of my gym sessions.
Speaking of the local Family Y, they've already got their Angel Tree up for this year. Nestled among the paper angels are a few red ornaments with families served by Partners for Success whose Christmas lists include things like Bibles, nail polish and dollar store toys.
Groups like MANNA, Agape, Partners for Success and others have dozens of families that don't want much - just enough to put smiles on their children's faces for Christmas. Please, take time to stop by one of those great groups and see what you can do to help.
The season of giving is upon us, and for many people, the strain of the economy may have tightened their purse strings. But your time - as a volunteer for one of the organizations or as even a mentor to an at-risk student in our community - can be far more valuable than dollars and cents.