Tag Archives: gift

Gifts that Endure

family collage

A gift is defined by how it impacts the heart. 

Sadly, we’re hypnotized by ad campaigns that tie the act of gift-giving to the act of spending money. In fact, the more money spent, the greater the perceived value of the gift—and the greater proof of love.

Something has definitely gone awry when the measure of one’s love is determined by the amount of money sacrificed.

The word “sacrifice” is no exaggeration for many people around this time of year. Some have difficulty paying for heat and groceries. So, instead of joy in their heart during the holiday season, despair, guilt and anxiety fill the air.

Jerry is a good example. He’s a construction worker with four children. When I counseled him a few years back, jobs were scarce. I couldn’t help but sense his heavy heart as he talked about how disappointed he was with himself. Why the disappointment? Because he wasn’t able to buy enough “stuff” for his family. He was convinced he was a failure as a dad.

Another client, Nicole—a single mom—was equally distressed. She was laid off so her Christmas-anxiety was the cause of many sleepless nights and, like Jerry, she also felt like a failure as a parent.

How can Jerry and Nicole arrive at peace? I like what The Beatles had to say about that:  “All you need is love.”

As a therapist, I deal with issues of love and abandonment—stemming from childhood—all the time. But I’ve yet to encounter an adult client grieving over having received too few gifts as a child.

The fact that Jerry and Nicole are concerned for their children tells me their hearts are in the right place. The love—that precious commodity underlying a healthy parent-child bond—is more than evident.

In an effort to have them rethink their definition of a gift I asked them two questions: What would bring joy to your children’s hearts? Throughout the year, what do they ask you to do with them?

To get a sense of the sheer magic of those questions, imagine yourself at age eight and being asked by your parent, “What would you like us to do together?”

Our involvement with our children spells love to them. So my advice to Jerry and Nicole was simple: “Give them you.”

Sure, there’s a thrill—a rush—when receiving material gifts. But more often than not, they impact our pleasure circuits—which are fleeting—not our heart.

Ask yourself this: How many gifts do you really remember from last year? I would venture to guess that joyful experiences—involving people—remain memorable, evoking inner smiles yet today. Such memories clearly take center stage . . . because they impact the heart.

 

Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.

(c) Salee Reese 2015

 

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Filed under General Interest, Parenting

Furry Love

choc lab

I must share a story about Nora and her best friend, Monty. Monty, you see, is a dog, a chocolate lab who has lived a full life. He’s twelve, which I hear is equivalent to age 89 in people years.

For several months, Monty’s health has been on the decline. And because he requires a great deal of care, Nora is drained emotionally, physically and financially—costing her money she doesn’t have.

Her vet has suggested that it’s time to consider putting him down. Others have given her the same advice—including me. But despite the burden and despite the suggestions, Nora  has adamantly refused. Her stance has been a mystery to me, so at one point I simply asked her, “Why?”

“He’s never been so happy,” she said. “He’s full of life and doing everything he did when he was a puppy . . . only slower. When I take him for a walk, he smiles and wags his tail at everybody! When we cross a street, he drags me over to a stopped car and stares at the driver as if he’s expecting that person to roll down the window and give him some attention. It’s hilarious! I can tell he’s a day-brightener for a lot of people.”

“And what’s he doing for you, Nora?” I asked.

“I love being greeted with that happy spirit,” she said. “He expects nothing from me. He accepts me the way I am, and I’ve had very little of that throughout my life.”

Ahhh, now it was all beginning to make sense. Monty is providing something for Nora that’s priceless—something that only the heart understands, something the practical mind misses. It’s called love, connection, acceptance and joy.

Let’s face it, as life happens, such gifts make it all worthwhile no matter how burdensome our load.

My heart was touched that day, and my capacity to see grew a notch. I thank Nora for that . . . and I thank Monty, too—a real day-brightener.

 

Let me know your insights. I like reading them! 

Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.

(c) 2014 Salee Reese

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Filed under Contemplations, General Interest, Get Free

The Unboxable Gift

gift box

How would you define a gift? A few years back when I posed that question to various people, I learned that a bumper sticker held the truth:

“The best things in life aren’t things.”

Hmmm . . . truth shows up in the least expected places at times. (Fodder for a new post, wouldn’t you agree?)

I wrote a column about my finds—many shared their viewpoints. In that column, I also wrote about the difficulty several of us have in being on the receiving end. In other words, we can easily give but can we just as easily receive? Melanie, a former client is a perfect example. I told her that allowing others to give to her was a gift in itself.

We all agree it’s rewarding to give, so when we let others give to us we’re doing them a favor.

Some people don’t see the gift they are to others. Kay was one of those people. Sadly, she was blind to her own value. So immensely wrong she was! You can read about her here.

For something to qualify as a “gift,” it need only be paired with the heart.

How would YOU define a gift? I love getting your feedback. And by the way . . . happy holidays!

Names are changed to honor confidentiality

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Filed under Contemplations, General Interest