Ho, ho, ho, Christmas is cancelled!
Two parents posted on Facebook recently a photo of their three sons and announced they were cancelling their holiday with no gifts.
This might sound harsh. But if your kids are spoiled and thoughtless, perhaps this is a good lesson.
How did the kids respond—another tantrum like they would before?
No, the kids who are under 10 years old, got the point. In fact, their response was adorable. They told a television reporter that Christmas is not about getting gifts, but to help the less fortunate.
Now, the kids have turned their rotten behavior into an uplifting message.
The parents were responding to their childrens’ attitude of entitlement and ungratefulness. Instead of getting gifts from their parents, the children are packaging gifts to the poor, donating their money and candies to the victims of the Philippine’s typhoon.
The story inspires me to think of giving loved ones and friends more meaningful gifts, which cost little, but demand your grateful heart to touch another heart.
1. The gift of time
“Name the three most important people in your life,” someone asked my friend, a successful career woman. She wrote down the names.
“How often do you spend time with them?” was the next question. Her eyes instantly welled up with tears. What if these three people die suddenly?
Does my friend’s story sound familiar? Instead of gifts, consider spending quality time together with the most significant people in your life.
2. The gift of forgiveness
Don’t let old grudges consume your mind and body. Life is too short. Do what you need to do to move on to find happiness and feel good. Do what you can to move forward so you can receive a constructive outcome.
Perhaps, you can share forgiveness with your detractors to build new bridges.
Don’t spend time moaning about life being unfair. You have a lot more blessings than you realize.
3. An act of kindness
Movie star Kirk Douglas, who just celebrated his 98th birthday, shared in an interview with Parade Magazine the most important lesson he has learned.
“Help other people…I feel like you have to help, even if you don’t have enough yourself. That’s what being a human being means.”
A few years ago, I offered Donnie Chin, Executive Director of the International District Emergency Center (IDEC), an award for his service. To my surprise, he said, his agency needs funding, not recognition. Donnie is honest about the tough reality of his agency.
Since then, I have fundraised and asked people to donate to IDEC. It didn’t cost much but effort.
The results were amazing. From our 30th anniversary banquet raising over $20,000 for IDEC to this year, the Asian Weekly donating a full-page advertisement for friends to wish Uncle Bob Santos’ 80th birthday (which raised over $1,000), I seize opportunities whenever I can. I don’t expect rewards. But we did get one. The Asian Weekly won first place in photography and layout for Bob’s birthday pictorial in the Washington Publishers Association’s contest.
If you can commit an act of kindness every day, it not only speaks volume about your character, it can also reward you with joy and thrills.
4. The gift of understanding and patience
How many times have you told your grandparents, parents, and other seniors that you have heard their stories before?
I know I am tempted to tell my mom and aunt to shut up after they repeated many things from the past—especially when I screwed up. Can’t they think of something nice to say instead of grumbling?
I bite my tongue, though, smiling as if it was the first time I heard the story.
Some daughters or sons usually respond, “Not again.”
Don’t forget one day, we will become an old nag too.
5. The gift of teaching and mentoring
“I am a free consultant,” said my former University of Washington classmate who is retired in Taiwan. I like the title he has given himself. He is so wise in many areas, including science, education reform, social and political issues; I am just proud of his contributions.
What he offers is expert knowledge, experience, and advice on many projects to better the community. It requires him to attend numerous meetings, and the ability to organize and connect experts to join in projects to present recommendations. His leadership is a wonderful asset and example to passive retirees.
Studies have found that helping others make people happy. If you are depressed, you should try helping others. It’s good therapy because you focus on other people rather than yourself. When you see others happy, you are happy too.
6. The gift of compliments
Have you interacted with people who are stingy with sincere praise?
Admiral Herb Bridge is a living example of someone who showers his friends with compliments, especially when he introduces you to strangers. If people have good impressions about me, I would probably credit that to Herb.
If you see good work, acknowledge it, even if they are your competitors. It’s the right and gracious thing to do. Frequently, I am the first person to admit that I steal ideas from the New York Times, Seattle Times, and other media companies.
Give credit where credit is due. Remember, compliments are free. You can lift someone’s spirit every day with just a few simple words.
7. Write a poem/letter
A powerful way to express your love and gratitude is to write a letter or poem to your loved ones (including those who passed). You can even write a song if you know music.
Or draw a picture to pay tributes.
You don’t need to worry about grammar or length of the letter. You don’t even need nice paper.
Start with a few words, lines today and every day. On Dec. 31, you would have written enough for a letter to present to your loved ones.
8. The gift of friendship
The other day, my friend asked me to welcome a young newcomer to Seattle. We talked for an hour the first time we met despite our generational differences. Giving support and friendship to someone who needs it is more significant than giving money.
Consider the goodness and kindness in people and what you can learn from that. Even your enemies have strengths. (end)