"We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God's Good News but our own lives, too." (1 Thessalonians 2:7-9, NLT)

Aside from socks and underwear at Christmas and an occasional new pair of sneakers, I never got any new clothes as a child. What I got were hand-me-downs. My coats, jackets, shirts, sweaters, pants, and even belts were all clothes that my older brothers had out grown and then been given to me. My clothes were often torn, sewed, and patched. They were never "in style." I didn't resent having to wear them, though. We weren't rich and new clothes were a luxury not a necessity. That is just the way it was. Most of my friends in school were dressed in hand-me-downs as well.

Even today I often shop at thrift stores and rarely buy new what I can find used. It is just who I am. I happily reject the march of materialism that so many others follow and find my true treasures not in money but in people, not in stuff but in ideas, not in things from the stores but in feelings from the heart.

Looking back too I realize that clothes weren't the only thing my Mom, Dad, and Nana handed down to me. They also handed down a deep compassion for other people and a desire to help them. They handed down a respect for this world and a delight in all living things be they flowers, plants, birds, or bugs. They handed down a sense of justice and fair play. They handed down a sense of pride in hard work and a job well done. They handed down a thirst for knowledge and wisdom. They handed down their kindness, good cheer, and happiness in doing good for others. They handed down a faith in God, awe for His creation, and joy in His love for us. Most of all they handed down their love. They loved me and instilled in me a love for God, myself, others, and life. They also instilled in me a desire to share all of these things with my own children and with everyone else.

What are you going to hand down in this life? What are you going to pass on to others? What are you going to share with the world? Whatever your hand-me-downs are give them with love. Make them gifts from the heart that touch the hearts of those around you. Make them treasures from your soul that others will treasure as well.

Joseph J. Mazzella