You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. —Kahlil Gibran
Let’s face it—many of us are still rushing around to buy the people we love the most their holiday gifts, huffing and puffing all the way. Here’s a story that’s a perfect reminder of why getting a physical gift for someone may not always be the best choice. We have so much more to give…
Margaret has been operating for most of her life on the premise that the time we share with a friend is far more important than giving or getting a physical gift. Born and raised in Ireland, she grew up in an environment where children, not adults, received gifts for holidays. One year, Margaret explained how she felt about gift-giving to Sandra, a co-worker who had become a good friend. Margaret pulled her new friend aside and bluntly told her: “It’s time for me to give you the lecture I give all my friends. Don’t get me a Christmas present or a birthday present, because I don’t want one. What am I going to do with more things? If you want to go out to lunch with me, that’s fine because then we get to spend time together. But if you get me a gift, you’ll just have to work harder to pay for it—and then you’ll have even less time to spend with me.”
It was Sandra who shared this story with me. “I actually felt relieved when I heard this,” she admitted, “and I appreciated my friendship with Margaret even more.” Sandra went on to tell me that a few years ago for Christmas, she had decided to do something similar. She told her relatives and close friends that instead of buying them material gifts, she wanted to spend some time alone with them. “It was the best Christmas I ever had,” she recalled, smiling. “I was able to spend time with all my favorite people and I wasn’t rushing around shopping. I didn’t even go to the mall once!”
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to be a good giver. It’s your inner gifts, the ones that touch another, heart to heart, that are the most precious offerings.
(Story taken from “Honor Yourself: The Inner Art of Giving and Receiving”)
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Just this week a young mother with three small children told me a similar story that reflected her values: “My husband and I are choosing to work less so we can spend more time with our children rather than buying them lots and lots of stuff, which they don’t really need. We want to give our children as much time and attention as we can right now—when it’s most important.”
Not all of us have the option of working less, but we all face a similar decision point: What’s more important—spending quality time with the people who mean the most to me? Or spending time away from the people I love to make more money or do the things I think I’m supposed to be doing to get ahead?
(And by the way, that picture above is of my kitties, who are constantly trying to teach me—with mixed results—how important it is to spend time in the “now” with the ones we love.)