Despite our lack of time, energy, or planning (perhaps you’ve put off holiday shopping as long as I have), giving a meaningful gift doesn’t have to be stressful or time-consuming. It’s about sharing the real you or blessing someone’s life with a simple act. It’s the gifts of forgiveness, love, or peace (or not sending that sequined cowboy hat).
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. Afterwards, in tears, she explains that her car was a gift from her husband. As she reaches into the glove compartment, she sees attached to the insurance information a note that says, "Honey, just in case you ever have an accident, please remember I love you and not the car."
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. But what made this more poignant is that she had been sick too—she knew, as a woman, 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, your joys, your talents. One lady chose to type and bind some of her favorite recipes and give them as gifts. Before everyone had cell phones (truly back in the day), my husband bought gift phone cards for his family—that way he could call them whenever he wanted throughout the year. Another Christmas I hand painted ornaments for family, but I did it the smart way. I went on an overnighter at a very comfy hotel and painted while watching all six episodes of Pride and Prejudice and eating tasty vittles. Ahhh, that was a meaningful Christmas gift.
You’ll often find that a heartfelt gift doesn't need to 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, for just one month, you can give them the gift of love. Each time you see them, say a silent “I love you” in your mind. Even if you don’t feel it. Even if just being in the same square footage makes you want to reach in and pull out their larynx. We can do anything for 30 days. Give it a try.
Meaningful gifts take a little thought and a bit of sacrifice, but that’s exactly what makes them so meaningful. Mary Ellen Edmunds shares in her book, Love is a Verb, about being asked as a child to take her prized numbers game to a sick girl in her sixth grade class. Mary Ellen says that “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 small, pale Beatrice. As Mary Ellen handed her the game, Beatrice immediately lit up and began playing with it. Mary Ellen 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 a mother of six—expecting her seventh—and a presenter, former TV and radio host, and author of several books, including Faithful, Fit & Fabulous. For tips, podcasts, columns, and books visit 8basics.com.