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A gift does not have to be expensive to be of value

Paying tribute: a Riga, Latvia couple has named this Chinese kumquat tree “Nina” in honour of their friendship with columnist Nina London

In the ancient and charming city of Riga, the capital of Latvia, is a lively and positive old woman by the name of Claudia. We met on the internet, and over time became friends.

We exchange messages and useful information about health and well-being.

She is very thankful that I inspired her to start walking again in her nearby forest with her husband after many years.

One day she wrote me this message: “Who lives without stress?

“My husband and I were in a bad mood, everything seemed to be going wrong.

“Then we watched your live broadcast about positivity, and how important it is to create a good mood for yourself.

“You said that we have to love ourselves and to actively try to make ourselves happy.

“We must celebrate life, do something fun and exciting that causes us to smile, to laugh and to look for joy in the smallest things.

“You told us how your mother makes herself happy by buying a beautiful bouquet of flowers every week.

“We decided to go to the store. We were wandering around still lost in sadness.

“Suddenly, on a distant shelf, we saw something that caught our eye with its unusual radiance.

“It was a small and exotic Chinese kumquat tree. The tree was covered with golden yellow fruits like tiny suns that glowed among the green and glossy leaves. We kept looking at it and smiling for several minutes. This tree seemed to transport us to a distant tropical country.

“We decided to buy it. I told my husband, ‘Let’s call it Nina. This will be our gift to her. Even thought we can’t send it to Bermuda, it will be her tree.’

“After we bought it, we forgot about our troubles. Our spirits rose and the day became brighter.

“Nina, we wish that this magic tree brings you great good health! When I water and nurture it, I talk to it like I talk with you and send my care and love to you.

“Thank you for your inspiration, for reminding us of the happiness found in small treasures in life.

“Through small acts of beauty and kindness we restore our own positive energy.”

From time to time, Claudia sends me a photo of my personal tree.

I received this message with a photo of this lovely tree yesterday. “Nina, your kumquat tree is all covered in shining golden fruits now and it delights us every day.

“It cheers us up, especially in rainy and gloomy weather!”

My special tree thrives and bears fruit in a medieval city on the fabled Baltic Sea.

I like to contemplate it glowing with its exotic beauty at the house of this adorable couple.

Through it, I understand that a gift does not have to be expensive, or even close by, to bring happiness.

The essence of a good present is the understanding that we have people who remember and love us, and who think about us often and wish us well, no matter how far away.