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Sam Brownback: Take a moment to be truly thankful

Christmas is just around the corner, and many of us are probably feeling overwhelmed by all of the parties, preparations for guests coming in from out of town, and our last-minute holiday shopping. In the midst of all the busyness during this time of year, it is all too easy to forget what is most important about this time of year: giving thanks for our blessings and acting in charity to our neighbors in need.

I propose that we all take a moment, just a moment, to think of all of the things for which we are truly thankful.

I know that may be hard this year; the past few years have been tough. If you haven't been personally affected by the economic climate, you probably know someone who has been: a parent who lost retirement savings, a friend who lost a job, a sibling whose college fund for his daughter has been wiped out.

In this stressful climate, it is easy, understandable even, to forget that our true blessings do not have a monetary value. We should give thanks for our friends, our family and our health.

We should give thanks for the soldiers stationed all over the world, separated from their families during the holidays, fighting to protect our freedom.

Each year at Christmastime, I am fortunate enough to join thousands of volunteers across the country to serve as a Salvation Army bell ringer. Standing outside shopping malls and grocery stores, the Salvation Army volunteers remind us of the true meaning of the season.

At Christmastime, Christians celebrate the birth of an infant, born to a humble carpenter and his young wife, who would go on to change the history of the world. The Salvation Army bell, then, is symbolic of the true meaning of the season: something so small that makes such a big difference.

Standing outside in the cold, ringing the bell, I've personally witnessed small acts of charity that make an untold impact. I've seen mothers and fathers, weighed down by shopping bags with kids running every which way, dig into their purses and wallets and drop money into the bucket. I've seen college students, wearing baggy jeans and torn sweatshirts, reach into their pockets and pull out crumpled dollar bills.

With each of these acts, I am reminded anew that Christmastime truly is a season of charity and thanksgiving. I'm reminded that during this season, we should take stock of all of the blessings we have and share those blessings with others. What better way to give thanks than by giving to those in need?

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