Continuing the conversation about materialism and gifts, Ally at Who Moved My Truth comments on the difficulty of heading into a holiday season without much of the green stuff. After reading Ally's thoughts and concerns, I couldn't help but think about the two gifts which most enriched me.
The first happened many years ago. After having almost lost my life at 22 due to a Dalkon Shield IUD, I sued and then settled with the company that manufactured the device. (I might have been able to get much more, had I gone to trial. Certainly being 22, unmarried and now sterile constituted some serious damage. I did not, however, have the stomach to handle years of daily reminders of this painful chapter in my life.)
At any rate, here I was with a chunk of change due to my misfortune...and I ruminated about what to do with it. I considered some type of gift to myself: new car, fur coat, jewelry... But none seemed appropriate nor satisying to me.
Then I thought about one of my closest friends.
One year after my illness, cancer struck Bonnie. Bizarrely, she, too had to undergo a total hysterectomy to save her life. Alas; unlike me, Bonnie's tragedy was due to the winds of fate rather than some Fortune 500 company. No one would pay her damages.
I decided what would make me happy. I took a portion of my settlement, and both Bonnie and I traveled to London for a week. We had the time of our lives; sightseeing, shopping and eating our way through this fantastic city. Bonnie was the food critic for our daily newspaper, and had interviewed restaurant owners from around the world. Little did Michael Roux expect Bonnie and me to "drop in" at Le Gavroche when he had extended an offer to her - but we did and experienced the meal of our life.
When Bonnie and I returned to the states, I knew that nothing else could have been as meaningful to me as our glorious week in London.
Another time that I recall being uplifted by giving was a Christmas some time ago. My husband asked me what I wanted, and truly, nothing came to mind. We were most affluent at that time, and whatever material items I really wanted, I'd go out and purchase. Even though it was Christmas, I did not need another outfit or some new-fangled electrical contraption.
Then I thought about another of my dear friends, Lois. Lois is about 10 years older than I, and had a tough life. Her husband suffered a serious stroke in his 40's, and Lois, lacking a good education or skills, had to go to work to support her family of five. Though she put in many hours a week as a cleaning lady, lots of $$ were never left over at the end of the month.
I'd recently been to Lois' house, and couldn't help but notice the worn and stained carpeting, dingy walls and furniture on its last legs. Suddenly, I did know what I wanted for Christmas.
Ed loved Lois as I did, and he was thrilled with my plan. Within a few weeks, Lois had new forest green carpet throughout her modest house, freshly painted walls and her living room furniture was replaced. It was a dramatic transformation! Lois glowed - as did I with her happiness.
If you think that I am most generous to give these gifts to my friends, guess again. I guarantee you that, no matter what the monetary value of my gifts to them, they gave me far more.
Both Bonnie and Lois are two of the most positive thinking, supportive and giving people I know. Throughout my adult life, they have stood by me through the proverbial thick and thin. They've kept me going when I myself no longer wished to do so, and shared my joys when fortune smiled upon me.
So Ally. You don't have much in the bank account this season? I'll bet that you have plenty in that brain and heart of yours.
Give your loved ones something from those sources. I will bet that they'll appreciate it far more than any other gift you could imagine.