Holidays: The Best Gifts Are the Ones You Can't Wrap

Jeff Herring

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What's the worst present you have ever received? Was it the old reliable soap-on-a-rope? Or a tie you would not be caught dead wearing?

The worst one I remember is what I think was a handmade bird feeder with glued-on moss and other decorations that I could not identify. We put it outside with bird feed, and not a single bird or squirrel would come close.

During this season of gift giving, let's consider a few gifts of more lasting value - the ones you can't put a price tag on or even wrap.

The gift of appreciation

I've never known a person who did not enjoy being appreciated. I remember years ago learning this in a rather unique and powerful way.

John Scott, the director of the adolescent drug-treatment center for which I worked in the ‘80's, had a neat way of making kids feel appreciated. These were kids who, as you might imagine, were not happy about being in a treatment center. John would sometimes casually say to a kid, “Hey, I'm glad you're here. "

It was amazing to see what a word of appreciation would do to a kid's attitude. Who might need to hear these words from you?

The gift of caring

Here is one of my favorite quotes: “Being cared about is something so desperately needed in this depersonalized world that people will crawl across a thousand miles of desert to get it. "

Everything in my experience as a counselor bears this out. Who in your life needs - perhaps even desperately needs to know - how much you care about them? Telling them how much you care may be the best gift they receive this year.

The gift of belonging

One of the greatest human needs is to have a sense of belonging. In an emotional sense, it's like air is to the body. We will go to great lengths to feel that we belong to something or someone. Without it, the soul begins to wither. Who do you need to include in your gift of belonging this year?

The gift of politeness

It amazes me how rude we can be. I want to believe it comes from a false sense of urgency and the perceived need to rush around getting everything done. From letting someone in front of you in traffic to using the words “please" and “thank you, " small politeness can go a long way.

The gift of rest

We live in such a frenetic and stressful world. I know very few people who feel rested with any regularity. And yet rest restores your energy, concentration and motivation. This one has two gifts in one: Give yourself the gift of rest, and set it up so that someone close to you can get some rest as well.

The gift of reconciliation

Poet Hugh Prather has said: “People eventually forgive and come back together because we need friends more than we need pride. "

Is there someone with whom you need to reconcile this year? Perhaps something in a relationship that needs to be cleaned up? Take the initiative. Say the words.

The gift of wisdom

It's been said that wisdom is the application of knowledge. Who needs the gift of your wisdom this season? Is there a specific skill you have that could be shared with someone who really needs it? What knowledge do you have that needs to be applied to your own life?

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