Giving a true gift during the holidays

With only 10 days left until Christmas, many people are struggling to find the “perfect gift” for a family member or close friend.

I don’t like the “mandatory” gift giving. You know what I mean. A friend of yours lets you know that they bought you a gift — putting you on notice that you better get them something too.

Over the years, I have gotten much more pleasure from thoughtfully selecting a gift that reminds me of someone (even if it’s not for a special occasion), than buying a less thoughtful “mandatory” holiday gift.

This is exactly what I did in Texas this past weekend. I walked into a boutique bath shop and was reminded of my friend M. So, for no special reason, I surprised her with a few soaps and bath salts that I knew she would love and matched her “girls only” bathroom at home. My note to her was just “Thinking of you.”

Better yet, when you have friends who really have EVERYTHING, why not celebrate them and your friendship by making a donation to a cause that you both find important.

One of the great things about my mother, Frieda, is that she is an amazing “clipping service” for me. Thanks to the Internet and email, if she reads an article of interest, she can forward it to me with two clicks. Instead of being annoyed with her regular stream of emails saying, “Thought you would find this of interest,” I have actually begun to open her emails with great anticipation and glee as she forwards me so many interesting things.

Last week, she forwarded a December 4th Op-Ed piece from the New York Times entitled: “Gifts That Say You Care,” by Nicholas D. Kristof.

I was intrigued with his opening line:

GIVE Grandma a bit of credit! These holidays, would she rather receive a silly reindeer sweater or help a schoolchild acquire glasses to see the blackboard clearly for the first time? 

You can read the entire article here.

That’s exactly how I feel. No more silly gifts for people who don’t need them. Share a little bit of wealth by significantly improving the quality of life for someone you do not know.

Now, if this seems too impersonal for you, or you just HAVE to bring a gift – try what my good friend Betsy does. This weekend we will be attending her holiday party and each of the guests must bring a “white elephant” item. White Elephant? Yes, we can clean out our closets or garage and find an item or two that is “like new” that we do not want or need. We wrap it up (to disguise it) and do a modified gift exchange.

What a great way to share the love! From my family to yours, have a happy, safe and peaceful holiday season.

A little peace here. A little peace there. And perhaps someday peace everywhere.