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Giving The Best Gift of All—Our Selves


 In December gift giving is on everyone’s mind. We run around like crazy people driving, parking, shopping, buying, wrapping, sending. We’re determined to find great gifts for those we love and good-enough gifts for those we like and the whole endeavor can be stressful enough to drain the joy from the most festive occasion.

Hold on, Santa—it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Because the best-fitting, most perfectly personal, most appreciated gift we can give anyone is the gift of our selves.

Our time. Our attention. Our love and compassion.

Given freely. Sincerely. Gladly.

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

Sounds lofty, but in practice giving of our selves is pretty down-to-earth. Especially for our seniors—or anyone who is ill, housebound or simply lonely—the very best present is our presence.

We can visit. Not just stop by on our way to someplace more important, but actually stop, settle in, and visit. No schedule, no agenda. We all love company. It makes us feel seen, heard and cared for. Connection gives life, and what’s a better gift than that?

We can give our undivided attention. Everyone has a tale to tell, memories to relive or mementos to show. Even if we’ve heard it before…

We can listen. True listening is a skill we can all master. It means being fully present, without judgment or a stop watch, to fully hear what the speaker is saying. To offer our feedback—if they want it!—or respectful silence if they don’t. Truly hearing someone can be the difference between loneliness and liveliness.

While we’re visiting, listening and sharing we can further brighten a senior’s day by …

  • Cooking a special meal.
  • Helping clean out a closet. (Vintage fashion alert!)
  • Solving a jigsaw puzzle together.
  • Reading aloud from a favorite book.
  • Playing a favorite oldies album.
  • Planting favorite flowers in a patio pot or flower box.
  • Opening a family photo album for a happy trip down memory lane.
  • Sharing a special pot of tea.
  • Baking cupcakes.
  • Digging into some finger paints!
  • Taking a waltz around the room.

Giving of our selves doesn’t cost much money, but a heart-to- heart connection is worth more than diamonds.  Don’t have a special senior? Your community could use your time, energy, skills and heart. Volunteer options abound! We can …

  • Help out at an animal shelter.
  • Bring our pet to a nursing home. (Ask first!)
  • Tutor local students.
  • Teach Sunday school.
  • Literally save someone’s life—donate blood!
  • Deliver meals to the housebound.
  • Stock groceries at a food bank.
  • Pick up litter where you find it.
  • Rake your neighbor’s lawn.
  • Start a toy drive.
  • Paint a public mural.
  • Plant a community garden.
  • Register voters.

Giving makes us all feel good, so why limit it to the holidays? All year long, let’s give the most precious gift of all—our time, our attention, our love, our selves.

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