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SALT LAKE CITY — The most meaningful Christmas gifts are often the most personal, and therefore hard to give. Gifts such as forgiveness, love or peace take time, energy and a change of heart.
In the book “Becoming a Better You,” author Joel Osteen shares the experience of a woman driving a new car, when she gets in an accident. In tears, she tells the gentleman whose car she had hit that her car was a recent gift from her husband. As the woman reached into the glove compartment for the insurance information, she saw an attached note that read, "Honey, just in case you ever have an accident, please remember I love you and not the car."
Meaningful gifts take a little thought, and a bit of sacrifice, but that’s exactly what makes them so meaningful.
These kinds of thoughtful, gentle gifts are priceless and lasting. A few years ago when I came down with pneumonia, a neighbor brought by a grocery bag full of "chick flicks" and a book series called “At Home in Mitford.” Bringing books and movies can be a bold move because people’s tastes are so different. But this good woman had been sick before. She knew what I would want — quiet, soothing, lovely images to distract me from the daily reality. That book series saw me through an intensely difficult time and has become a personal favorite.
Personal gifts share a bit of who you are: your tastes, joys and talents. One woman I know chose to type and bind some of her favorite recipes in a folder and give them as gifts. My husband used to buy gift phone cards for his extended family — in the neanderthalic days before cellphones — so he could call them anytime throughout the year.
One Christmas I hand painted ornaments for family members, to give them something personalized. The best part, of course, was that I painted them on an overnighter, at a fabulous hotel, while watching all six episodes of “Pride and Prejudice” — that was a meaningful Christmas gift. Choose something a tad more personal this year, and really enjoy it instead of just crossing it off the ole list.
Ironically, a heartfelt gift often won’t involve things. Is there a friend you haven’t spoken to because of unhealed differences? A family member you avoid or a co-worker you can’t stand? Perhaps this year, or even a few weeks, you can give them the gift of love. Each time you see them mentally say a silent, “I love you,” even if you don’t feel it. Even if being in the same square footage makes you want to reach in and pull out their larynx. A few days of sending happy thoughts is bound to make you happier, too.
Meaningful gifts take a little thought, and a bit of sacrifice, but that’s exactly what makes them so meaningful. In her book “Love is a Verb,” Mary Ellen Edmunds shares an experience when she was a child of being asked to take her prized numbers’ game to a sick girl in her sixth-grade class. Mary Ellen said, “It was not with a burning sense of charity that I put that numbers game in the sack.” They drove to the girl’s small house where nine children lived, including a small, pale Beatrice. Reluctantly, Mary Ellen handed the game to Beatrice, who immediately lit up and began playing with it.
Edmunds recalls, “Something happened inside of me at that moment — something significant. I was too tough to let it show on the outside, but in my heart something very important and good was happening. I felt happy. I felt I’d done something that mattered.”
Choose to give something that matters this season, even if it’s just one offering. Whether it’s about a fender bender, forgiving someone, or sacrificing something important, perhaps our greatest joy this season could be giving the meaningful gift.
Connie Sokol is an author, presenter, TV contributor and mother of seven. Visitwww.conniesokol.comto see more of her work.