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December 11, 2018

Buffalo Bikes, and Resurrecting Meaning in our Christmas Gifts. by Elinor Jannotta

     Christmas is about new life, new hope and new opportunity. I think…We are to patiently await and celebrate the arrival of Christ, whose message was to love one another with all our hearts, and to serve one another. I’m not quite sure how the whole gift thing came to be, or at least what Christ had to do with it. Maybe it was the gifts those magical, star struck astrologers gave. Wise as they were, their selections were steeped in symbolism for the newborn king of kings; gold (befitting a king), frankincense, used as incense and a symbol of prayer, and myrrh used in those days as an embalming oil, a token foreshadowing Christ’s suffering and death.

     Picture the scene in the barn, the needs were many–baby clothes, a proper bed for the new mom, a crib, maybe some blankets; practically speaking oil and incense were about all they didn’t need. Somehow out of that, a couple thousand years later, the pendulum has swung the opposite way, and our gift giving tradition has gotten uber practical. For our children it can be perfunctory, with little understanding of the not-so subtle difference between wants and needs. My daughter recently “invited me” onto her google doc entitled “2k18”  with links to a gold necklace, a new ski coat, airpods, and a few items Urban Outfitter. And the old people in our lives, well they want less stuff (which is mostly a good thing,) but that it marginalizes we wanna -be givers of our love and appreciation. Sometimes it feels like the spirit and symbolism of the whole deal is all but gone.

     A Community Church I attend inspires a new way of thinking about giving. There, with each baby that is born or baptized in the community, a Buffalo Bicycle is purchased from World Bicycle Relief. The idea is that new life gives new life. These sturdy reliable bikes provide affordable transportation to people in developing countries, mostly on the continent of Africa, who are pursuing education, are providing healthcare, or are entrepreneurs. These reliable modes of transport are literally life changing as there are not options nor infrastructure to support travel–to schools, for medical care, or to tend to patients. Travel times are reduced to 25% with a new set of wheels. Where we might jump on a bike for exercise or to reduce our environmental footprint, Buffalo Bikes are literally giving new life, new hope, new opportunity.

     So here’s a thought this Christmas. Give not just from your heart, but from your loved ones’ too. Model generosity for your child; show your parent yours is not the only life they’ve made a difference in. Give the gift of giving. How? By giving a Buffalo Bike in someone you love’s name, for $147. (https://worldbicyclerelief.org/en/)

     According to Beene, a fourteen year old whose life has been transformed by a Buffalo Bike, “Only someone who loves you can give you a gift before you have even met.” Beene may not have traveled far before he got his wheels, but he sounds like a wise man to me. There’s a spirit there that sure feels a lot like Christmas.

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