The Gift of Giving

I am sitting in Vancouver and it’s snowing! Watching the snowflakes fall reminds me that Christmas is drawing near and that it is also the time for giving – usually in the form of presents. However, the recent passing of my step-father has made me think long and hard about the gift of giving.

When a loved one passes away, suddenly and without warning, it is heart-shattering. It is also hard to come to terms with the fact that you will never see or speak to that person again. You will forever miss them. You will never have that last opportunity to tell them how much you valued, appreciated and loved them.

Naturally, the sudden death of a loved one also makes you realize what is truly important in life and just how short life can be. In my case, I started to think about my family and friends – how they enrich my life and help to give it meaning. My original plan was to fly to Vancouver for three weeks. My step-dad was going to take care of Chekko, my dog, while I was away. My step-dad had bought a ticket to fly to Vancouver three days after my return to Spain. He wanted to be home with the family for the holidays.

Of course, his death changed everything. My mother was in total despair, having lost her life partner of 35 years. When she asked me if there was any way I could change my ticket (and also bring my dog) so I could stay in Vancouver for the holidays, I didn’t hesitate. It was quite the challenge, as I only had one week to arrange it all. But if there is a will, there is a way. I don’t care that it has cost me a fortune (580 € for the dog alone), because after what happened, valuable time with the family is priceless. The memories I will have with them will last a lifetime.

I have also decided that rather than buying my family Christmas presents this year, I am going to give them something from my heart and soul. I am going to write each of them a long beautiful and personalized letter. I want to tell them how and why they are so special to me, how grateful I am that they are in my life and how much I love them. Lest I should never have that chance again, because life is short and we never know what might happen.

Christmas is around the corner and these are hard times. However, the best gift is one from the heart – and doesn’t necessarily cost money, but rather a bit of your time. So I’d like to share some of my gift ideas with you:

If you are musically inclined, you could write a song or piece of music for a loved one, or simply play a tune for them. You can also use your creative talent to write a poem, knit a scarf, and make a drawing or piece of artwork. You can make your own gift certificate valid for any number of things, such as cleaning someone’s home, washing their car, babysitting their children, or minding their pets.

You can offer to do all of the household chores for a week, give a massage, or cook a nice meal. You could make a CD with all the digital photos you have of your friends or family members and give that as a gift. We all seem to have so many photos yet sometimes forget to share them. Making a photo collage is another idea. Perhaps, you have items that you don’t use anymore and could pass on. As they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

Volunteering is another gift of giving. There are countless organizations that are desperate to find people willing to donate their time. As Christmas nears, remember to cherish what is most important in your life and that the best gift of all is love. Happy Holidays!

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