The best gifts

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Maj.) Robert Phillips
  • 509th Bomb Wing base chapel
On the day after Thanksgiving the Christmas shopping rush officially begins. The proverbial starter's pistol sounds and most of us sprint to the races...stores! As usual the malls are crowded with people, parking spots are at a premium, fender benders increase, etc. All who are veterans of the "shopping wars" are familiar with the rest of the story.
Yet most of us are willing to drive into Kansas City's crowded parking lots, maneuver shoulder to shoulder down packed store aisles and stand forever in the long lines. We endure all of this so we can buy those special gifts for the ones we love.
Many of these coveted gifts are the ones we have been told are needed to make our loved ones' lives complete -- or at least that was the feeling expressed by our families and the advertisers. So we buy and buy and buy until we are tired of buying or we've maxed out our credit cards.
I don't want you to get me wrong. I'm not against buying Christmas gifts. As a matter of fact, I get great enjoyment out of buying gifts for my family and friends. At the same time I'm a realist and understand most of the gifts I buy will someday lose their special value. How long does it take you to get bored with your gifts? The real truth is the vast majority of those "must have" gifts will one day find their way to the landfill.
So the question arises. "What are lasting gifts I can give to my loved ones?"
Below are "personal gifts" that say "I love you." These are gifts that can be given year-round -- and the benefits never wear out.

Show genuine interest in your spouse/children's activities:
Participate, discuss and/or attend the activities your family is involved in. This will encourage your loved ones and make them feel appreciated.

Give them your undivided attention when talking to them:
Nothing validates a person more than you looking at and listening to them when they are talking to you. The message they receive is you are so important I want to talk to you and hear what you are saying.

Remember the special days:
Some examples are birthdays and anniversaries of special occasions. Put some effort into making these a real celebration.

Make good memories:
These can be special occasions or can even arise from everyday occurrences. Whatever you do, the central meaning is I love you and you are special.

Be available:
This is hard to do when you are tired after working all day, but the benefits are well worth it. Things you can be available to do are helping with homework, coaching, cooking, helping pick up around the house, or chaperoning. Again, this reinforces your family's importance to you.

Give compliments:
Express your admiration, at every opportunity, for the positive qualities they have, the way they conduct their lives, or how they do things.

Be affectionate:
I know a lot of people do not feel comfortable being physically affectionate, yet this is a great way to say I love you without saying a word. Hugs, pats on the back, loving eye contact are great means of getting that message across.

Tell them, "I love you" then show how you love them :
People never get tired of hearing this from a special person and they never grow tired of seeing this put into practice on a day-to-day basis.

It's time to buy Christmas gifts for your loved ones -- but remember to give them the best gifts that last year-round.