"For the measure you give will be the measure you get back." -- Luke 6:38 As Christmas Day draws near, holiday joy fills the air. Carols play continuously as last-minute shoppers bustle about the shopping malls. Everyone we meet greets us with "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" in this -- the most love-filled time of year! Homes are decorated for the season with brightly lit trees, wreaths and sweetly-scented, flickering candles. Wonderful aromas waft through the air as mothers bake spicy treats for family and for sharing with friends and neighbors. Many holiday parties and special programs are planned. Children are glowing with excitement and expectation. The majority of people are finished shopping for gifts and are all set to enjoy the most important celebration of the year. But there are always those who don't get their shopping done until the last minute. Perhaps you've searched for weeks to find just the right gift for that special person on your list or worked for many hours to create one. Sometimes, that perfect gift eludes us and we end up making an impulsive last-minute choice. It warms our hearts to exchange gifts with others. We are hopeful that the gifts we've chosen or prepared will reflect our love and appreciation for those who receive them. Presents, cards, cookies and crafts are symbols of thoughtfulness and love. As we give and receive these gifts, our lives are blessed. We are fulfilled. Our gifts need not be elaborate or expensive. The simple things are often the most significant. One of the most poignant stories of the Christmas season is that of The Little Drummer Boy. The story tells of a poor, young boy who, unable to afford a gift for the infant Jesus, plays his drum for the newborn with the Virgin Mary's approval. The child seems to understand and smiles at the boy in gratitude. He had given all he had - from the heart! Like the little drummer boy, we can give of ourselves - our time and talents, whatever they may be. And in giving all we have, we are certain to be blessed. May you all have a blessed Christmas! Horton lives in Nitro.