A gift is defined as something given willingly, without payment, It is also defined as a natural ability or talent. When you give gifts, you make someone feel special. Your gesture sends the message that you are thinking of them. As an added bonus, the generosity in giving gifts and seeing the joyful expression on the recipient’s face makes us feel good, which spreads to those around us.
As we approach the holiday season and you seek the perfect gift for someone, consider giving your time, talent or treasure instead of just buying “stuff.”
Take an elderly neighbor to church, the grocery store, or pharmacy. You can take them out for a meal or a cup of coffee. Ask them about their life. Many seniors have no one who listens to their stories and you might hear some amazing ones.
I had two women clients who were at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. One was a nurse working at a hospital in the pediatric section. She talked about sick kids and their confusion about had happened. The other was a mother of three young children and had no idea whether her husband was dead or alive. The stories were chilling real-life history, and the women enjoyed sharing them because they seldom had anyone who listened.
Volunteer at food pantries or serve food to low-income families, seniors or homeless people at churches or other charitable organizations. Consider taking your whole family to one of these dinners to serve people, and then go home to your own family meal. You will leave those you served smiling. At home, you’ll feel blessed to have helped others, and those feelings will stay with you for a long time. You can start the conversation with “Do you think you made a difference in the life of the person you interacted with today? Why?” Your family will have experiences to share during your own meal.
Some charitable organizations also serve underprivileged families before Christmas by providing gifts that the parents (or Santa) give to kids for Christmas. Our office staff helped a local non-profit organization by volunteering to help parents select Christmas toys, books and clothing. We heard stories about the kids, their personalities and activities. The parents’ joy was contagious as they left with the gifts selected for their children. The stories continued through the office Christmas celebration; we all felt more joyful and ready for Christmas.
Spend time on hikes, walking on the beach or just sitting in the park sharing stories. Listening to a person that you care about helps strengthen your relationship with them and creates a special bond. The gift of time could appeal to a family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker.
Another benefit of the gift of time is less clutter for the recipient. They don’t have to find a place to store another gift they either won’t use or will use for a short period of time.
Do you have a natural talent such as singing or playing an instrument? Take that talent to a senior residential home or nursing home during the holidays to play music for the seniors or lead them in singing carols.
Are you a retired teacher or someone with the skill level and patience to give one-on-one help to a student who needs some assistance in reading or math? You can watch the student grow in skills and self-confidence because of your input.
Are you an artist or have a hobby you can share with others? You might be able to expand someone’s horizons.
Experiences can make long-term memories for you, your family and friends. You might have to purchase tickets, for instance, to a play, a football game or a concert. Purchase gift cards to a museum or a book store, then take your grandchild out for special quality time. Pay for a night of bowling and challenge family or friends to a night of fun and laughter even if you haven’t bowled in 10 years (or never). You can take pictures and share the experience with them later or with others. The memories of any of these activities will be talked about much longer than a material gift.
Gifts for any age group does not have to be limited to “stuff.” Consider a gift of your time, talent or treasure and experience the happiness which comes back to you.
Marcia L. Campbell, has worked as a CPA for over 25 years specializing in seniors, trusts, estates, court and trust accountings and probate litigation support. You can reach her at Marcia@MCampbellCPA.com.
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