Give a Gift to Remember
by Anita Brooks
There’s a gift people of all ages receive with anticipation—though it may take different forms, depending on the interests of the receiver. From newborns to centennials, males and females, regardless of position or portfolio, this gift entertains, encourages and can be personalized. What is this riddle-laden item?
This amazingly versatile gift is storytelling—and there are as many ways to tell stories as there are to receive them—even if you don’t consider yourself a natural speaker.
Mothers show warmth and acceptance through stories when they cuddle their wee ones, as the littles waft into sleep. Fathers use stories to teach lessons and guide their young sons and daughters into successful adulthood. Siblings pass stories back and forth, competing and reminiscing. Friends share stories as their bonds deepen. The mature in age inspire those coming behind them by utilizing stories from the past as motivation for the future.
When you give a story, you present a part of yourself and leave a lasting impression. Christmas is the perfect time to give this personalized present. If you don’t believe storytelling is a talent you possess, you may not have considered the following creative ways to pass on your message.
Write out a short, one-page story from your past or about one of your ancestors. Choose a tale that’s funny or fascinating, then print it on decorative stationary paper, or for an even more personalized touch, hand-write it. Sign at the bottom and put it in a frame. You can feel confident your loved one will not receive the same gift from someone else.
Create a family heirloom cookbook, choosing a dozen or so recipes. But add something personal about each recipe: a short anecdote about its origin, why you like the dish so much, or perhaps a humorous story related to a time you served it.
Make a memory book about you and the one you are giving to. Include carefully selected photos that capture your relationship, and include short captions, or “Remember when” statements. Tell the story of your connection through pictures combined with select words.
Record the reason for the season by writing down how Christ’s birth, death and resurrection changed your life. Your personal testimony can make a meaningful impact on someone who might need to hear His story and how it affects you today.
If you have a special talent, especially for something that’s becoming a lost art such as sewing, crocheting, cooking, home maintenance, woodworking, etc., write a short instructional book, including the story of how you discovered your interest and refined your craft.
Write a brief appreciation story. Reminisce and tell what you remember about how this person came into your life, and why he or she means so much to you. Share specific memories about special moments you’ve shared. Think about all the things you’d want him or her to know if this was your last Christmas together—and tell that person now while you can. The holiday season offers the perfect excuse to get a little mushy.
If the thought of writing something yourself feels intimidating, give the gift of good books and create a family book club. On a monthly basis, either in person or online if you are separated by miles, discuss books with the potential to entertain and transform the lives of those you love.
Start a new story with your loved one by participating in a day of intentional acts of anonymous giving. To enhance your shared adventure, write out little notes, giving God the credit, and leave them in your wake as you splash your holiday joy. Your notes could simply say, “God loves you,” or write out John 3:16. Make it your mission to gift others with small kindnesses like these:
-pay for the car behind you at the drive-through
-pick up the tab for a table at a restaurant
-purchase the tickets for the couple behind you at the movie theater
-send a gift card in the mail for a family dealing with difficulties
-drop a present for a teacher at the superintendent’s office
-slip an envelope with some cash or a gift card, and your note from God, into the hand of a cashier as you quickly exit their checkout line
-walk up to a police officer or someone in military uniform and shake their hand, tucking a pre-stuffed envelope into your palm—walk away before they can question
-leave a box of goodies on the front porch of a family in need
For the person who has everything, consider a present no one else can offer. If your budget is tight, go with the affordable but powerful gift of story. Don’t follow the boring route, do something different. Make your present and your presence last, by sharing a part of yourself. No matter our age or stage in life, stories get our attention like little else.
Make Christmas gift-giving even more meaningful this year. Personalized stories can transform hearts, minds and spirits, and infuse the giver with a renewed sense of purpose. It is more blessed to give than to receive, especially when your offering is wrapped in a story.
Anita Brooks motivates dynamic break-throughs as an inspirational business/life coach, international speaker, and certified personality trainer, as well as the host of Tending Your Dreams podcast. An award-winning author, from the page and stage, Anita inspires people to make fresh starts with fresh faith. Her new book, Exceedingly: Spiritual Strategies for Living on Purpose, with Purpose, and for an Abundant Purpose, releases in spring 2019 through Kregel. But one of Anita’s favorite roles is that of wife, mother, and grandmother. She loves dipping her toes in Missouri lakes and laughing with her family. Discover more at tendyourdreams.com or anitabrooks.com.
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