Suzy’s latest blog at Share the Spiritual has me thinking about gift-giving. I can’t remember more than a handful of the gifts I have ever received: the plastic nativity (which I still have) from my beloved grandmother when I was five; an Asian pin from my parents to celebrate the launch of my book; a soccer jersey from a dear Brazilian friend’s favorite team. When I think of this list and the few like it, I am struck by the realization that it is not the items themselves nor their monetary value that makes them memorable: it is the gifts’ association with the giver. Given the current real estate market, we have been thinking (ok more like dreaming) about buying a retirement condo. Talking about what we would move and what would stay crystallizes what is really important. Most of the stuff we’ve accumulated won’t make the journey. Our Christmas ornaments, the antique oak table we’ve had for the majority of our marriage, and that nativity and soccer jersey will be among the precious few items which will make the cut. Studies show that the price of a gift is more important to the giver than to the recipient. I believe that. A couple of Christmases ago, I wrote letters to four people who had made an impact on my life, listing three things about each of them that I appreciated. Two of those four people are now gone. Those two people treasured those letters just as I have treasured these few meaningful gifts. I am at peace, knowing they knew how much they had meant to me. Suzy has given us a challenge: what can we give this year—of ourselves—that will be remembered? I have started thinking.
“For it is in giving that we receive.” Francis of Assisi