The best gifts in life are free
The greatest gift
“Your life is not about you. It’s about everyone else who’s life you touch.” — Neale Donald Walsch
Regardless of your upbringing, there’s a fairly widely known story that gets circulated at this time of year about three guys who trekked across the desert to share their most valuable possessions with a newborn child.
The tellers of this story typically focus on either the miraculous spiritual nature of this event or the giving of expensive gifts which has fostered many of the commercial aspects of the holiday season.
For me, the fascinating part of this story lies not in the giving of expensive gifts to a child but in the “how” these three men came to arrive at the side of a particular manger in Bethlehem all those years ago and what they actually did when they got there.
To start with, what exactly did it take for these men to get there in the first place?
In a time before GPS, maps, or even a compass we are told they followed a star. But what inspired them to follow that particular star and what did they imagine they were searching for when they agreed to make that long journey to an unknown destination?
And, once they arrived, what did they really give the family in the stable?
Aside from the peculiar “gifts” we have all heard about, what they actually gave them were their time and their attention and, in doing so, they helped a family in need and changed their lives for ever.
Depending on your upbringing, tomorrow might be just another day: Christmas day, the start of Twelfth Night, or the countdown to the start of Kwanzaa.
But no matter who you are or where you are or what you believe, you too have the opportunity to give your time and attention to those that you encounter in your journey.
By all means give presents if that’s your tradition; but strive to give simply for the joy of giving itself.
Don’t worry about what you will get or whether there will be enough to go around. Remember that the things all the people in your life need most is your time and attention, and these are things that are always in your power to give.
Someday, far from now, the stuff will be gone and you yourself may also be gone. But, the time you helped your neighbour mow the lawn, or gave a lift to a stranger, or listened to your grandchild chat endlessly, or visited someone you knew was alone, will live on for ever.
For me, this holiday season is not so much about a single day as it is about the endless opportunities to be kind to my fellow man. And the best part about the feeling that I get when I give my time to others, is knowing that this is a feeling that never has to end because there will always be time to give.
• Robin Trimingham is an author and thought leader in the field of retirement who specialises in helping corporate groups and individuals understand and prepare for a new life beyond work. Contact her at www.olderhoodgroup.com, 538-8937 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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