Opt out of gift-giving at work or in social clubs to free up room in your budget for your family and close friends.

My family will tell you how difficult it is to buy the right Christmas gift for me. I’m at a stage in life where there isn’t anything I want – except for this past Christmas.

Remember the blizzard of early December, when we got 2 inches of snow? I shoveled my driveway for two hours (can you tell I’m from Jersey and not the South)? When I was done, I told my kids I wanted an electric snow shovel. In classic Italian style, they created drama about which model to get Dad. I’m pleased to tell you they nailed it and got me the perfect electric snow shovel. Therefore, we won’t be getting any more snow this winter.

My wife’s gift to me was two cordless hand drills.

You need to understand that I have (or should say had) three cordless drills that didn’t work. The first one I received more than 15 years ago. The battery won’t hold a charge. Yet I continued to charge the battery over and over, believing that this time, it would hold the charge and I would be able to use it again. That didn’t happen.

The second drill was a warranty replacement from the original drill that died, even though the warranty had expired. This drill worked for a few years and then also didn’t hold a charge. Just like the first drill, I charged it over and over, believing this time it would work. That never happened. Yet both drills occupied space on the shelf.

Without throwing out drill No.1 or drill No. 2, five years ago I purchased cordless drill No. 3. It worked if you kept the battery on the charger. If you disconnected it, the battery went dead. There were many times I went to use the drill and it was useless. I found myself hurriedly putting the battery on charge while holding up the project at hand.

Christmas came, and I unwrapped the gift from my wife. It was exactly what I needed – two cordless drills. I then went to the garage and did something I should have done a long time ago. I took the broken drills and their chargers, and threw them in the garbage. The battery will go to the recycling center. Each time I threw the broken drill and charger into the garbage, I felt this burden coming off my shoulders. It was as if a great relief had come over me.

The real test was when I discarded drill No. 3. Yes, it held a charge if I kept it on the charger. But the charge didn’t last long. This would be the test; was I willing to let go of this broken device or hold onto something that didn’t benefit my life.

The same is true in life. Why do we hold onto hurts and resentments as if keeping them will make things better? Why do we hold onto relationships that gray our hair for free? Why do we go back to relationships believing that this time those people will treat us with dignity and respect when it hasn’t ever happened in our life? When do we learn to let go, realizing the only person we can change is ourselves?

Sometimes we need to grieve over the relationships that could have been, but never will be what we want them to be.

I had to say goodbye to three drills that didn’t work to make room for the new drills I can count on. The same has been true in my life. I’ve had to walk away from relationships that were unhealthy to run with the ones that brought out the very best in me.

I’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, live well my friend.

The Rev. Tony Marciano is the president/CEO of the Charlotte Rescue Mission.

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