Holiday 2016 is not far behind us. Every year around this time, as I finish the last piece of my favorite Swiss chocolate, I glance around the room to study my Christmas presents to see if I have any use for anything. Unfortunately, like a lot of other lucky 30-something adults in North America, I have accumulated more material possessions than I need. Past a certain point, the presents become a meaningless pile of clutter waiting to be carted away to an attic or a garage.
I am at a point in life where I could not care less about presents or whether I am even on somebody’s Christmas list. What I do care about is helping my friends and loved ones learn and grow. The most exquisite present is something that can achieve both objectives. It is not an idea that most people have in mind as they make the annual trek to the local mall. In truth, most people are probably too tired at that time of year to think beyond the immediate need to check off their Christmas list. An exquisite present is not a box of expensive chocolate or even a gift card to purchase more material things. There should be thought going into each present. I cannot think of anything other than a good book. A good book can open minds and lead to a whole new world of thinking. It does not have to be at the top of New York Times’ best sellers list (which can be biased). When I say good books, I can name tons. Think of “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White, a great reference for your friends who could use great writers’s wisdom to polish their writing. Your friends could gain a lifetime’s insight into the world of the English language as they finish that book. There are great biographies of individuals who conquered insurmountable challenges to reach the top, often through unconventional paths. These books could be invaluable sources of encouragement for friends with different life challenges right now.
I cannot say I have always followed my own prescription, but I have been doing a lot of thinking lately . Especially for the people I care about, I want them to learn and be the best person they can be each day. The best thing I can offer them is a good book. As we are still recovering from the madness of the Christmas shopping season, I think it’s worth keeping in mind for the next holiday season the meaning of a present.