By AYANNA CLARKE
Based on the music, decorations and clothing out now, we know everyone is anticipating Christmas. If not for Junkanoo, then for the shopping and decorating. If not that, then for the food. Of course the holiday and days off are a bonus as well.
One of the best things about the holiday season are the gifts. Children and adults alike, wait expectantly to see exactly what will be left under the tree for them. Christmas morning, as you can imagine, is usually a time of tremendous joy, or not so much, based on what you get.
Based on what my mom received some twenty years ago (I wish), she obviously felt that she had hit the jackpot. What was it she got you may ask? A healthy, beautiful, remarkably talented (yes, it was obvious from then) little girl, who she named Ayanna.
Let me introduce you to Ayanna Chinyere.
Growing up, I didn’t mind the name “Ayanna” so much. But for years I hid the name “Chinyere”, It was too strange. It certainly wasn’t easy to pronounce. Imagine being stuck with both the names Ayanna and Chinyere? You’d be amazed at what I have been called over the years.
I recently discovered Chinyere is a Nigerian name from the Igbo language of southeast Nigeria; and it means “God has given.” Once I read this, the knowledge immediately hit me – I am more than just a human being that lives and breathes and takes up space – I am a gift! An amazing bit of knowledge for someone who grew up in a home of no wealth, and no influence. I seemed to be destined to be the answer to someone’s question; the supply to someone’s need or the solution to someone’s problem.
Gifts are such wonderful things. They’re personal, they bring joy, and they’re ultimately given in love.
The thing is, a gift can be given but it also has to be received.
2018 has been a hallmark year for me. From January to now has been an amazing journey of understanding my true worth – as a person, a writer, a singer, and as a gift.
One of my favourite parts of the Christmas story in Matthew chapter 2 recounts the Wise Men bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Jesus. These gifts were so important that they risked life and limb to deliver them to the child and parents. The Magi were not turned away but the Bible says they presented these gifts to a receptive mother and child.
As we get all geared up for Christmas, we’re going to reflect on the amazing gift we are to those around us.
Although your name is not Ayanna Chinyere, you too are a precious gift, given in love, and worth being celebrated by those lucky enough to have someone like you in their lives. Just like me, you are an amazing reflection of personality, love, joy and capabilities that can fill and fulfill the needs in your circle. The thing is you are only effective as a gift if you are received.
Seeing myself as a gift took some time. I’ve often shared that I spent so much time apologising for who I was, that I didn’t really understand that I shouldn’t have had to. I should have been celebrated for everything I could be to those around me.
My Christmas focus then is to teach us all how to celebrate ourselves, as gifts in our own right. Each of us represents God’s time and effort in creating a truly unique gift.
So, this year, I have no more apologies. I’m celebrating me – and you, 100 per cent —as people worthy of love and appreciation by those who are smart enough to receive us.
God bless you this week!