By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
I discontinued the tradition of sending out Christmas cards long before e-cards became popular. Why I stopped was because I found it pointless to send a card with someone’s name and my signature; and partly, I was lazy.
I reciprocated by sending out a card to someone who just scribbled their name on a card like a movie star, while I had to spend an endless amount of energy trying to figure out who the heck sent it. If you don’t want to do it, you might as well forget it—don’t bother sending out those cards. You are still my friend if I don’t get one from you.
Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
With Mother Teresa’s wisdom, I do give a few gifts with a great deal of love and thoughtfulness during the year, and not just the end of the year. Most of us have misunderstood that gifts have to cost a lot of money to make the receiver happy.
In fact, some materialistic folks think if the gift is free, it probably is no good at all. Well, there are gifts you can give, which are not flickering diamond rings or a brand new car, and yet it means a lot to both the giver and the recipient. Call them magical gifts or gifts from the heart. Those gifts sometimes create wonders beyond imagination.
Last year, in Contilia Retirement Home in Essen, Germany, someone came up with a brilliant idea of exciting its residents and bringing them joy. They created a calendar by having its seniors dressing up as stars in memorable movie scenes such as James Bond, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and John Travolta. In the process of making the calendar, it produced a tremendous amount of fun, comfort, and warmth for the organizers, models, and their families.
About 5,000 were printed for families and friends of the retirement home.
Here is my list of 10 magical gifts which you can easily duplicate every year.
It’s human nature to hold old grudges. Forgiveness shows a gender difference between woman and man. Men can forget, but not forgive; whereas women can forgive, but never forget. Pals, we have work to do!
Although it is hard to do, forgiveness is one of the most generous gifts you can offer to your enemies or your loved ones. Forgiveness cannot be granted half-heartedly, it has to be complete before you can free yourself of hate, revenge, and negative energy consuming you without peace.
After you forgive, find a way to make up.
2. Making up with a meaningful gesture
“You need to lose some weight” was the first thing I said to my friend whom I hadn’t seen for years. She just recovered from a heart attack.
“You are mean!” she fired back. She knew I was right, but resisted my advice. So the fight began. I didn’t know exactly how we made up. But we did.
Weeks later, she mailed me a knitted scarf from San Francisco. I complained again, “It’s the wrong color. I asked for blue color.” I knew she did it intentionally. Literally, I started the fight again like two mischievous kids wrestling to beat the heck out of each other.
Then, magic kicked in as soon as I put the scarf on my neck. I felt her love—each stitch I saw reminded me how she did them with pride and joy for our friendship. It’s still my favorite scarf, I told her.
3. Show kindness and support
My former classmate, living in Australia, decided to celebrate her battle and recovery from cancer by taking a long trip to see her friends in Canada. My husband and I would drive up to Richmond, B.C., just for dinner to see her. We were there at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and left at 8 p.m. the same night so I could work the next day, Wednesday (our print day).
No words could possibly describe our joy when we hugged each other since we parted 40-plus years ago. She was so excited and touched that she shared the story to our classmates that I made a special trip just to be with her.
4. Buy a goat (really!)
Rosario Carroll likes to donate money to Heifer International in her classmates’ name. For $120, it can change a family’s life in Africa. The gift will be used to buy a goat so the family can get food, and also sell the milk if they have extra.
Offering a gift in a friend’s name is a win-win situation. www.heifer.org
5. Return the blessings to strangers
Know the source of your blessings when giving your donations. Bonnie Miller’s son once had a cleft lip and she didn’t even know it at the time. The baby’s lip was healed inside the womb – a once in a million case, according to her doctor.
She donates every year to organizations which provide free surgery to kids with cleft lips.
6. Write for gratitude
Write a song, poem or thank-you letter to a teacher, mentor and friend, telling the person how much s/he helped you in the past.
7. Buy food and volunteer in a food bank
Collect and volunteer to give out toys at churches and other non-profit organizations.
8. Pay for groceries for the needy
Quite a few times, I take friends to go grocery shopping at Uwajimaya in December so they can have a fridge full of goodies during festivals to feed their families.
9. Offer heartfelt services
Cook a meal for an elderly or sick one. Clean someone’s house that is in need of a makeover. Cut someone’s hair if they are not able to go to a salon. Or offer to treat for lunch!
10. Show seniors they are significant
Organize Christmas carols at senior centers, nursing homes, and hospitals. Spend time talking, listening, sharing stories, and sharing food. (end)