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Edition No. 195—January 7, 2022 
VILLA ZOOM: Part and Parcel of Our Lives

by Julie Gabell, SSJ Associate
At first glance, saying “thank you” may seem a simple thing. Not so. If you really stop to think about it, the gift we receive today comes to us at the end of yesterday’s planning: the giver thought, bought, wrapped and gave. Our gratitude moves beyond the gift to the knowledge that someone cared. 

This is the very essence of giving--that we learn both to give freely and to accept graciously; that we realize that gifting in reality is a reflection of the give and take that is part and parcel of our lives. As such, our ability to give is not limited to material objects we can see and touch. Our most valuable gifts sometimes come to us in the smile of a stranger, the kindness of a friend, or the laughter of a child. 

We are but a small part of many meaningful gift exchanges that have gone on for centuries. Researchers believe that cavemen gave presents of odd-shaped rocks or animal teeth to strengthen social connections and show appreciation. For thousands of years, Native American tribes engaged in the tradition of potlatch, a complex ceremony where property and gifts were given to underscore status or wealth. Ancient Egyptians buried their dead with elaborate gifts and rituals to ensure immortality. 

Today, as off-shoots of these traditions, we give gifts to define relationships, express appreciation and strengthen bonds with family and friends. The uniqueness of our gift carries with it a little part of who we are, just as the thankfulness we express bears an underlying promise to respond in kind. 

This New Year, as clocks wind down on months of COVID uncertainty, “thankyou” should be at the front door of our minds. We have been blessed abundantly with gifts of warmth, sustenance and safety. We have been vaccinated, boostered, and cared for—all reasons to give thanks to the greatest of all Gifts found bundled in the “manger” of our heart.
SSJ Neighborhood Center
Neighbor to Neighbor Sharing Market
December 29, 2021
Thank you to all those who donated household goods, Christmas decorations and toys to our Neighbor to Neighbor Sharing Market. We are especially grateful to Saint Augustine Prep, Richland, NJ, and Trinity Presbyterian Church, Cherry Hill, NJ for the toy collection and gift cards that were shared with our families in Camden. 

As always, we so appreciate the presence of our volunteers who gave of their time to set up the social hall and accompany our neighbors on the journey through the maze of gifts. May God continue to bless you for your generous hearts!
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"With the help of God's grace and in fidelity to our founder's expressed wish, we live and work lovingly among all persons with a special preference for those who are poor, which calls us wherever we are to be in union with them."
                         — SSJ Constitutions #21
Editor, Sister Carole Pollock SSJ | 215.248.7269 | cpollock@ssjphila.org |http://ssjphila.org/home/