Sandra Howlett, Ed.D.
This is the season where many people spend tremendous energy and money on gift giving. This can be stressful and worrisome in addition to the strain on your credit card. What if you had an alternative? What is the “perfect gift” and how much would it cost? There are a host of alternative gifts that are sure to fit your budget and heart.
The Gift of Your Time
Being with someone, giving them your undivided attention, is perhaps one of the most precious, priceless gifts you can offer. You may put together a puzzle with a child or go for a walk or visit someone in a nursing home. Whatever you choose, you are creating in a memory of caring and sharing.
The Gift of Listening
Good listeners are rare treasures. You have an opportunity to allow someone to tell their story and pay full attention to them. This means no interruptions, no chiming in with your story…only listening to theirs and asking questions for more details. I once heard of a man who was described as extremely wise. When asked what he did what was so wise, I was told, “He listens well.”
The Gift of Your Talent
What do you do well? You don’t need to be perfect, just a cut above some others? Do you make great banana bread? Can you fix a leaky faucet? Can you take a letter for someone unable to see or write anymore? What can you do with ease that you could share with others?
The Gift of Your Smile
Have you noticed the faces of others while you are out and about? Some people seem distracted, frustrated or borderline miserable while going about their daily doings. Offer them your smile – a free gift of encouragement! Make eye contact and connect with a smile and a gleam in your eye. You just might be the person who turns their day around…and it is sure to lift your own spirits along the way.
The Gift of Your Forgiveness
It has been said that refusing to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Forgiveness is highly personal and should never be forced on anyone. Consider for yourself, is there something that you have carried too long and paid too high a price for? Who could you release from judgment today? Maybe it is your self.
The Gift of Your Acceptance
Sometimes the greatest gift we can offer someone is to love and accept them – “as is”. We could give the same gift to ourselves. Rather than harsh comparisons with others that are inevitably hurtful to someone, what if we allowed ourselves to hold pure, unconditional acceptance of another person…and let them know that?
The Gift of Your Remembrance
This could be a card or call to someone you do not see often with a simple ‘thinking of you’ message. These spontaneous remembrances are some of the sweetest in life. Enclose a story, article of interest, clipping or a favorite memory. What a terrific surprise this can be!
The Gift of Your Treasures
What do you have that you are willing to share with another? I’m not talking about donations to the local thrift shop. I mean items of interest or beauty in your home that have served you well, given you pleasure and you are now ready to share them with others. If you have things that you want to eventually bequeath to your loved ones, go ahead, give them a gift now so that they can properly thank you and you can live to see them enjoy the treasures!
The Gift of Your Anonymous Good Deed
Do something for someone else – anonymously! Be creative and have fun with this. You could pay for someone’s meal, leave a pot of flowers on someone’s doorstep, wrap one of your favorite books and send without your return address. If you walk early in the morning, you could put driveway thrown newspapers on doorsteps…the list is endless and exciting!
The Gift of Your Appreciation
Make a list of 10 things you appreciate about a specific person and send to them. Combine personal, serious and humorous attributes of your friend. I guarantee, this will be one gift that is neither discarded nor forgotten!