Whenever my adult kids ask what I want for Christmas, I always respond by saying “nothing”. This does not satisfy them, so they go out and spend their hard earned money on something I don’t need. Although the thought is there, I feel guilty that they have spent time and money. They will ultimately find something that I like and present it lovingly, but I don’t want them to resent me or the gift giving experience.
A better gift would be that of gratitude. Just a note about something they are grateful for. It could be their health, their friendships, a pet, their favorite meal, a work ethic, a ride to school, a special occasion or vacation, or just being tucked in at night as a child.
Gratitude reveals to the receiver a thought that is of importance to the giver. But more succinctly, it opens the giver up to numerous thoughts and appreciations that can and should be shared. Reflections and positive, often loving, remembrances are habit forming. With any habit, practice will make it perfect.
The gift of gratitude should be savored throughout the years and revisited often. A memory of something past that brings warmth and a smile. How good will that make everyone feel? Then use the gift as an ornament either for your Christmas tree, or on a gratitude tree year ‘round.
Many of us have struggled with the perfect gift, to give or to receive. Each time I am reminded of an event that includes gift giving, I rarely recall the gift, but remember the smiles, laughter, tears and joy that accompany these memorable moments.
Over 2 decades ago, while busy with a full-time practice, seeing patients and 3 young boys I had an 85-year-old woman come to see me. She was in severe pain. Each day was spent trying to set aside the pain so she could somehow find a moment of relief. The medications the doctors had prescribed did not work or caused bleeding so bad she had been admitted to the hospital on multiple occasions. Her name was Ruth L. Ruth lived alone in a small single wide trailer where she struggled to find enough money to pay the heating bill in the winter, and also eat. Every time she showed up in my office she was dressed as if she was going to church on Christmas eve. Always a smile on her face and something nice to say to our staff. In the exam room she would break down in tears and tell me how much pain she was in and how our treatments (Functional medicine/Chiropractic) had been helping her. Around her third office visit she confided to me that she would have to stop seeing our office as the co-pay and out of pocket expense was just too costly, but she thanked me for the relief she had received. I understood and told her, “I would like to give you a gift of service by offering you complimentary treatment as I see how much better you are.” Ruth sweetly, but very matter of factly, said “No, I can’t take your time or your offices time to treat me when you have many others that can afford and pay for your services, thank you anyway”. I insisted that she take my offer and told her “I will not take no for an answer”. Then walked her up to the front check out station and instructed my staff on the details of our arrangement, then went back to my patients.
At the end of the day I went back up to the front office and asked to see tomorrow’s schedule. My front desk scheduler, Kelly said “That was really sweet what you did for Ruth L. By the way, she asked me to have you bring in pictures of your boys as she would like to give you a gift, otherwise she will not come back in for treatment”. So, I did just that. I brought in pictures of my son’s Matthew, Sky and Kian who were 14 years, 2years and 6 months, dropped them off at the front desk for Ruth’s next visit. Ruth L. received the pictures and on her next visit presented me with handmade elaborate Christmas ornaments where she had put pictures of my boys. When she presented them to me, she said, “I have no money to pay for your services, so I offer you this gift of gratitude for the impact you have had on my life”. I continued to treat Ruth L. for the next 7 years up until her passing. Each year our Christmas tree filled up with gratitude and, every year I look forward to the grateful memories that Christmas brings.
Years later as my sons all fully grown would ask, “Dad what do you want for Christmas?” I would say “Nothing- just a gift of gratitude.”
Gr8ful Cards was born from the amazing power that gratitude can bring to one’s life. It remains after all the material gifts are no longer useful. When you give the gift of gratitude you never know the impact that can have on another’s life…it can come back in ways you may never imagine.