Husband & Wife Articles


The Gifts We Have Received

The best things in life don’t need to be wrapped

By Kimberly Quatela

(Part Four of a Five-Part Series)

In his letter to the Colossians, St. Paul mentions five key virtues: forgiveness, love, peace, gratitude, and praise (Col 3:12-17). In these final few days of Advent, let us continue our weekly reflections on these virtues as we prepare for the coming of Our Lord at Christmas.

Let’s focus on the gift of gratitude.

The week of Christmas seems to bring out the best (and the worst!) in us, as we scramble to attend all the Christmas pageants, concerts and parties, and still find time to wrap presents, shop for the holiday meal, and clean the house to the standard of an extremely tidy mother-in-law. Our life can become a daily check list, with our only goal finishing that list before Midnight Mass. People can be seen as obstacles and we can fall prey to envy of those other perfect moms posting beautiful Christmas card pictures on Facebook. Our eyes move from Christ and our loved ones to focus on our faults, weaknesses, and flaws, and how our husband and kids don’t seem to understand the stress.

What is the Lord asking of us during these last few days before Christmas? Where is he trying to come into your life? I believe he is asking us to look for him in the stress and be grateful for the gifts he gives us each day. When something or someone throws off our schedule, we should consider this a reminder from God that we are on his schedule and that this is the season of his Son – a gentle nudge from our loving Father that he is here, waiting for us to put Jesus at the top of our list.

A busy, working mom of her time, St. Gianna Beretta Molla offers us a beautiful insight into what the secret to lasting happiness is: “The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day.” 

Too often, this time of year comes with comparisons, envy, greed, and disappointments. We didn’t get the perfect gift we had hinted at from our husband. Our children didn’t behave the way we wanted them to at the family gathering. We didn’t lose enough of the baby weight to fit into the dress we hoped to wear. We didn’t save enough money to be able to go out for New Year’s Eve. St. Gianna reminds us that the Lord is in all of our moments, and that happiness comes not from what we feel is lacking in our life, but from focusing on the gifts he has given us.

The Lord has given me a spouse who loves me, works hard to provide for our family, and makes the boys crack up when he tickles them. We have the blessing of two children who are healthy enough to run around in the house of family members whom we get to spend time with. My body has housed and nurtured two lives and is strong enough to carry them, console them, and protect them. My husband and I have jobs that we love and a home that we cherish.

I challenge you, just as I challenge myself, to make a list this week before Christmas, of all the gifts the Lord has given you already. I think what we will find is an abundance of blessings which are much greater than anything that could be wrapped and put under the tree.

Kimberly Quatela lives in Yonkers, New York, with her husband, Steve, and their two children. She is Family Faith Formation Coordinator for the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut.