It’s time to go shopping and find all the best gifts for everyone! As I get ready to brace for the crowds of people and navigate all the sales ads, I can’t help but think about my favorite gifts over the past few years. The funny thing is that I can barely remember more than a couple of actual “things” that really stand out. Things are not as memorable as the context, the meaning, and the interactions that surrounded them.
I will never forget this beautiful basket of mismatched stuff that my husband gave me one year. Do you know the reason I remember that gift so well? Because with all that stuff, I realized that he took the time to go to about half a dozen different stores and pick up things like lotions and dangling earrings and other odds and ends and then took the time to put it all together. Bottom line, I don’t remember one single actual product in that basket, but I remember how I felt when he gave it to me and I also remember how proud he was to give it to me.
One time, for my friend’s birthday, I traveled to see her but what she didn’t know was that I had also arranged for her kids and grandchildren to surprise her for an impromptu birthday dinner. It was amazing to feel all the love and energy that night as we gathered to honor her. She was completely surprised and loved every minute of the celebration. I doubt any of us can remember what was wrapped up on the gift table, but we could all tell you how much we laughed that night and enjoyed each other’s company.
I think about these moments as I head out to start my holiday shopping. Sure, I enjoy finding little trinkets for my friends and even some practical things for people to use, but the reality is that the gifts themselves have very little value. The thing that matters the most is the connection, the interaction, and the experience itself. And for those things, you don’t get receipts. Instead, you get impressions on your heart and memories that last so much longer than any single material thing.
Granted, it takes a little more effort, energy, and awareness for these experiences, but the value will always be priceless.