As the holidays approach, I want to remind you about the cornucopia, that oddly shaped basket with fruit stuffed in it. This is a symbol we don’t see much any more and not many people know what it symbolizes.
According to Webster’s, a cornucopia is “a curved, hollow goat’s horn or similarly shaped receptacle (such as a horn-shaped basket) that is overflowing especially with fruit and vegetables (such as gourds, ears of corn, apples, and grapes) and that is used as a decorative motif emblematic of abundance — called also horn of plenty.”
I remember as a kid hearing, reading and seeing stories of the “Pilgrims and Indians” having meals together, and it always seemed like a cornucopia was involved. There was plenty and they shared with each other.
As the holidays approach, it seems like this is the time to reflect on what we have. We should do it all year, but it comes to the forefront around this time. Some people may have more than others and that’s okay. For those of you who are blessed and have a “cornucopia,” I want to challenge you through the holiday season to see how you can help someone else. As you do, I hope you will include your children, if you have any, and teach them to give.
People outside your family don’t need to see you give. It is fun to give and not to expect anything in return or to be acknowledged. These are lessons that we need to teach the youth of today as too many times they give and then expect something in return. We need to help them realize it is okay to not receive or be recognized.
However, what if you can’t afford to give or don’t feel like you want to part with certain items? There are many other ways to share your abundance. Take your family and work at the food bank or the soup kitchen. When the snow comes, you can shovel someone’s driveway. I remember a family who would get up early and shovel their elderly neighbor’s sidewalks and driveways before anyone else was up and then do a few others randomly to surprise people. It didn’t cost them anything but it meant a lot to those people who had it done for them.
Another idea would be to invite people over for a meal, especially ones who don’t have family and are alone. I had someone tell me lately that they don’t have friends — they have acquaintances. That hurt as I feel that person is a friend of mine. I need to figure out how to do a better job of showing my friendship to them. There are lots of elderly, single people, college students and youth who don’t have family around or a place to go. What a great example to be able to share with your kids and help them understand it is good to help others any way you can.
So, this holiday season and maybe throughout the year, wouldn’t it be great to give selflessly of yourself? Whether it be money or labor, it will be worth it. I have said it many times — your reward will be greater than what you give. Have a great holiday season.
4-H is a youth organization for youth K-12 that helps youth learn about certain items of interest to them, but also teaches them life skills. 4-H has a club structure with leaders who are adult volunteers with current background checks. To learn more about the local program, contact Marla Lowder, Tanana District 4-H agent, at 474-2427. You can also check out our web page . 4-H is a part of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.