Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 22, 2013

What is your talent or gift?

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

- — The concept of Santa and MacGyver brought back a flood of Christmas memories. My dad is one of those do-it-yourself guys. Growing up, he seemed to always have a tool in his hand. He constantly had a project, mostly one that ran on four wheels, or maybe more if it was a church bus. One thing I always remember about my dad’s skill with a wrench is how he used it to help others. I could count on a church bus in the garage. Or a friend from church asking questions about a motor or a weird sound. He used his knowledge of mechanics to help others. It was and still is his gift. My dad has always been fascinated by my career. He wants to know how I come up with words, how I track down stories and write a column every week. To him, it sounds hard. But man, you should see him rebuild an engine. I could never do that. Sometimes he used his talents during the holidays. He put together numerous bikes and toys into the night on Christmas Eve, while eating the cookies left out for Santa. Most likely my mom had the instructions. One year, he didn’t need any instructions. He spent months building a Go-Kart for my brother, Matt. I never saw my brother more excited than on Christmas morning. He sat in the driver’s seat for hours. Matt even ate his breakfast in the G-Kart.

You can’t buy those type of gifts; they are one-of-a kind and special. Even though the present wasn’t mine, I was equally surprised. I was amazed my dad could create something so complicated like a Go-Kart. That Christmas reaffirmed what I already knew. My dad could make anything. Of course, as an adult, I now realize there are limits to his skills. However, he can still impress his daughter almost every time. I can count on him to give mini-tours of his garage and show off the progress of a 1960s Chevy truck. It is coming along slowly. I smile at his eagerness. He finally has his own project, something that gives him joy. I am proud of him. It is his turn but he is never too busy to fix my broken headlight on a cold Monday night.

He didn’t make an engine for me but he knows his daughter. He took wood — not his first pick; there is no grease or oil — and made beautiful bookshelves. They are priceless and nothing could ever replace the love placed in those shelves. There is nothing like the feeling of knowing a loved one created a gift using their talent, time and love. There is nothing wrong with store-bought gifts. But there is something to be said about homemade presents. From bookshelves to Go-Karts to hand-painted ornaments to chocolate chip cookies, we seem to gleefully accept those gifts with smiles and thanks. There are tiny imperfections but they magnify one of the true meanings of Christmas. The idea of giving instead of receiving.

I believe God gives everyone a gift, disguised as a talent or skill that separates us from each other. It is what makes us different, yet come together as a team. We rely on each other’s skills and talents. When those talents are musical, theatrical, whimsical, practical and soulful, we appreciate the gestures and the memories. At Christmastime, use your talent for good, whether it be crafting a special gift, bargain shopping, baking perfect cookies or singing about Jesus’ birth.

Jamie Null is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at