Claremore Daily Progress

December 22, 2010

CHEROKEE CHAT - Personal Christmas spirit

Cara Cowan Watts
Special to the Progress

CLAREMORE — As Christmas approaches, I cannot help but reflect back on how much Christmas has changed for me personally. As a child, Christmas was about the things we would get at Christmas.

For me as an adult, I am drawn to Christmas as a holiday I spend trying to help others and reflect back on the year’s outcomes.  I am thankful for my family, friends and community which bless me with a support group that enables me to help others.  Community work has made Doug and Is marriage stronger as something we do together whether it is working the Annual Will Rogers Stampede Rodeo or donating time and monies to those in need on other local projects.

My mom and I have chosen to forgo gifts for each other in the traditional sense.  Now, we donate to a local cause in honor of each other.

Last Christmas, I went shopping in honor of my mom for our honored guests at Claremore’s own Claremore Veteran’s Center.  This week, Doug and I are working on going shopping together for our Veteran friends.

The men and women veterans who live at the Veteran’s Center are an incredible group of folks who risked their lives for our freedoms.  The needs of the Veteran’s Center is year round, though.  Should the Christmas spirit grab you, I hope you spend some of your Christmas money on the following items for our Veteran heroes.

This week, I will shop for sweat bottoms, disposable razors, shaving cream, name brand denture cream, disposable combs and skid free diabetic socks.  Right now, they are in need of small and medium sweat bottoms.  The sanitation requirements at the Center means high temperature washes destroy socks and sweats quickly.  With 350 Veterans at any given time, there is a constant need throughout the year.

Local volunteers maintain a store inside the Veteran’s Center where the residents ‘shop’ each week.  The store is organized, neat, clean and highly efficient.  Their work should impress any paid staff.  Your donations will always be used and can be accepted by the receptionist during normal business hours.

 I used to be stressed out by Christmas and worried about shopping for that perfect gift.  Once I decided to simplify and focus on the spirit of Christmas as I see the Holiday, the stress melted away.  Buying for the Veteran’s and others in need has become something I look forward to each year.  In fact, I have been moved to act more than just at Christmas.

I am a Church of Christ girl, so Christmas is a man made holiday since it only happens once a year.  If it is truly about the birth of Christ, Christians should celebrate every day of the year and learn to be more giving to those around us every day.  I am by no means perfect in this area, but am going to strive to do better for myself and my family.

Remember your family, friends and neighbors who are serving overseas today and send them a care package to your or donate to the local Blue Star Mothers so they can send packages.  Learn more about them at rogerscountybluestarmothers.com.  If you have time and not money to give, send them a Christmas card with a thoughtful note to brighten their day.

 Even with the loss of jobs and continued economic downturn, our focus should be on the needs of those around us and ourselves rather than the wants.  Christmas is best when you are giving, not receiving.

 If you have questions, issues or concerns about the Cherokee Nation government, please email me at cara@caracowan.com or write me at P.O. Box 2922, Claremore, OK 74018.  For daily news and event notices, ask to be added to my District 7 email listserv.  You can, also, find me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

To contact the Tribe, call 453-5000. The operator will connect you with the appropriate department. Tribal programs and services are administered by the Chief’s staff at the Tribal Complex. Tribal hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Save a trip to Tahlequah by using the Tribes Internet tools at www.cherokee.org.  Almost all applications are available online to print from home.

Cara Cowan Watts is deputy speaker of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council and elected legislator of District 7.