Love Is A Gift, For No Reason At All

While the holidays are known for being a time of joy and cheer, that may not be the case for somebody who is sick, struggling physically or mentally, fighting for their life, or less fortunate than us.  We live in an age consumed by things.  And, it is no more evident than at this time of year.  The frenzy of shopping, crowds, long lines, large credit card bills – it is assumed that happiness can be gift-wrapped.

Material things can give us a jolt of pleasure, but that pleasure is not rooted in the thing itself.  As a result, we end up squandering Christmas looking for joy in all the wrong places.

Joy is not in things, it is in us.
— Richard Wagner

A study at Oxford revealed that when a subject was shown both a Rembrandt painting and a fake drawn by a student, very similar in style to the Rembrandt, there was no spike in brain activity.  There was a noticeable difference when the subject was told the fake was an authentic Rembrandt.  The same happened with a California cabernet – ranging from $5 to $90.  When the labels were switched, identifying the least expensive to the most expensive, the pleasures of the brain responded more actively.

Does that mean the only gifts worth giving are the ones with prestigious logos?  No, of course not.

The real moral of this research is that even the most wonderful things in the world aren’t wonderful purely for the material reasons.  Instead, the joy and beauty we find in these objects depends on the feelings and beliefs we bring to them.  It really is the thought that counts.

Your presence is a unique gift to the world.

The gift of time, your presence, listening, performing the simplest of tasks can make all the difference in the world, especially to those who are struggling. There are many expressions of appreciation, friendship, love and gratitude that don’t require money, rather our creativity and thoughtfulness. A photograph sharing the recollection of a memorable event together is inexpensive and priceless. Create an opportunity or experience that will be meaningful.  Finding out about their interests or dreams and creating a fun experience or adventure can be priceless. 

One clue solved on the scavenger hunt!

One clue solved on the scavenger hunt!

Every year I spend a long, glorious weekend with four girlfriends I know from 30+ years ago when we lived in Kansas City.  We pick a different city and on one adventure, Sue Soloman came up with Urban Adventure Quest. This was a scavenger hunt app we downloaded and proceeded to learn about the history, culture, architecture and arts of the city while doubling over with laughter at how long it took for five, seemingly intelligent women to solve the clues. We learned, laughed and the only cost involved was our bruised egos!

Nothing says “I care about you” and “You matter to me” quite like spending time with someone.  Reading to children or the elderly, helping those in need with tasks, running errands, preparing meals or baked goods – there are so many things that require little money and are the most meaningful.

I am thinking about the many people that are bedridden in the hospital or at home and how especially difficult it can be at this time of year.  Here are a few gift suggestions for those who may not be in the best of spirits this holiday. They will delight in your thoughtfulness!

  • Brookstone Shiatsu Foot Massager - This machine is compact and can make anyone feel pampered with the push of a button!
  • Zoeppritz Throw - Hospital sheets aren’t the nicest things in the world, and when you are in a hospital bed more often than not, this throw helps make it cozy and feel more like home.  They are so soft and luxe! 
  • Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Headphones - Sometimes you just want to cancel out all the noise around you in the hospital, and these are great for that.  I would use them to listen to books on tape, music, meditation apps, as well as at night I would use a sleep app that played white noise to help me sleep.
  • GlamSquad - Women know that beauty has the power to transform.  Treat them to a beauty service, a blow out or make-up application.  I loved getting manicures and pedicures while in I was sick.  Something that simple would lift my spirits and make me feel like my old self!
  • Gratitude Journal - In times of despair, it is vital to reflect on the positives!  I would jot down three things a day that I might have taken for granted in my old life and read them at the end of the week.  Reflecting on the positives made me smile, learn to celebrate the small accomplishments and give me a feeling of hope.
  • Mario Badescaeu Rose Water Facial Spray- Super affordable and great to keep by your bedside for an instant pick me up.  It also boosts moisture and revitalizes your skin with aloe, herbs and rosewater.
  • Fuzzy socks or slippers - I love these brands: Barefoot Dreams or Barerun
  • Qtica Lip Balm or Nivea Lip Butter – no more dry or chapped lips!
  • A comfy robe by Lake - Comes in variety of colors, lightweight and comfortable.
  • Eye mask & slipper set by Sofia – offers softness and warmth in a variety of colors, and it's on sale!
  • Facial wipes – easy, convenient and so refreshing!
  • Tata Harper Aromatic Bedtime Treatment - Aromatherapy oil or Aromatic Stress Treatment – perfect at any time!
  • Pretty notepad with pen (I really used this)
  • Pure Paw Paw ointment for almost everything!
  • Audible - send book on tape as a gift.
  • Kindle for books, games, puzzles, etc...
  • Podcasts - So many to choose from - Wisdom of Sunday’s Changing Insights From Super soul (Oprah).

I believe the greatest gift of all is the gift of grace.  For all of us there are times in our lives when we have a need to forgive or ask for forgiveness.  My pancreatic cancer journey has given me so many gifts and I have learned the gift of grace is the one gift that really ends up being a gift to yourself.

Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters. I hope in the weeks ahead, the time you spend preparing for the holiday will show you that love is a gift, for no reason at all.