GIFTS THAT LAST A LIFETIME
Gifts That Last a Lifetime In this season of holiday gift
buying, advertisers bombard us with messages, some of them
contradictory. One ad tells us that the best way for men to show
love is to spend three months' salary on a piece of diamond
jewelry. On the other hand, MasterCard commercials remind us
that there are some things ("Priceless" moments) that money
"Oh, that's a sweet sentiment," you might say, "but can it
really substitute for the latest videogame or hot toy?" Very few
children raised in this materialistic culture would say, "Gee
mom, thanks for making my favorite meal. What a great Christmas
Yet 20 years from now, these same children probably won't
remember the items that they got for the current Christmas. They
will, however, recall the special games that their family played
together, the time that their older brother took them to a
movie, or the way their parents tucked them in at night.
These are the little moments, which over time, have a huge
impact. Unfortunately people tend to take them for granted. With
so much emphasis on holiday shopping, and on buying the perfect
gift, we can lose sight of the importance of the less flashy,
but "priceless" gifts: gifts such as thoughtfulness and
gratitude that we can give to one another all year round. A
diamond may be forever, but its value is nothing compared to a
lifetime of moments that money can't buy.
I'm not suggesting that you forego the presents this holiday
season, but don't worry so much about how "perfect" they are. Go
ahead and buy some gifts, but more importantly, resolve to focus
your energy on helping others feel valued and appreciated. They
will remember your acts of thoughtfulness and compassion long
after the material gifts are gone.
Here are some examples of small gestures that can help people
around you feel valued:
1. Show your appreciation with a thank-you, a smile or a hug (or
all three.) It takes just a moment, but it can make a person's
2. Practice a random act of kindness every day. Make this your
"gift" to a stranger. For example, let someone in front of you
in line. Hold a door open for someone. Smile and greet people
you pass at work. These acts take only a few seconds or less,
yet they create a mood that can last for hours.
3. Call up someone you haven't spoken to in a while, just to
catch up on how they are. You've probably been meaning to do
this for a long time. Now is a good time.
4. If you have children, give one child at a time your full
attention for an afternoon: Go for a walk; go to the library; or
just sit and read or draw together. The activity itself isn't as
important as sharing time and interacting together. Going to a
movie or watching a video doesn't count.
5. Write a note of appreciation to someone who is important to
you. Don't be surprised if that person keeps the note for years
6. Think of the way you'd like to be remembered by those around
you, and give of yourself accordingly throughout the year. The
added benefit for you is that you'll be in a more positive frame
of mind overall.