What is the best ‘gift’ you received in 2011? What was the best ‘gift’ you gave in 2011? What made these the best?
I’m not sure I could identify the best gift I gave. I don’t even recall giving any gifts to be honest. I’d like to say I gave the gift of time, or listened when someone was in need, or provided a shoulder to lean on. But only others could tell you whether or not that’s really true, whether my actions really made a difference. And at the end of the day, those things aren’t really gifts at all. I’d rather think of them as the basis of our interactions with one another. Nothing special, just the courtesy and compassion we all share.
The best gift I received is much easier to identify. I don’t think I received any notable material gifts, but there was one moment, a passing minute, where someone provided me with the gift of appreciation.
Part of my job is to deliver the harvest from our City Hall Sharing Garden to the community kitchen at the local Neighbourhood House. It’s usually a few bags of kale, chard, salad greens, some tomatoes, and on a good summer day, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. Oh and of course, tons of fresh and fragrant herbs.
On one delivery, there were a few people working in the kitchen and waiting for the lunchtime meal that was being prepared. When I handed over the bags of food, a small elderly Asian woman came over and grabbed my hand between both of hers. She cracked a huge grin, shaking my hand, saying simply ‘Thank you”. I couldn’t help but lean over and give her a hug. She brightened my day more than I could ever explain in words.
It’s not the money you spend or the way you wrap an object that matters – I’m sure we all know this by know. It’s simple acts of gratitude, and knowing that we are doing something positive for the world, that makes me believe we are all each other’s greatest gifts.