The theme of our Toastmasters meeting a few weeks ago was “You are a Gift.” I enjoyed taking part in the meeting, partly because it was such a festive and timely theme, since gifts are a big part of the holiday season. And partly because I always enjoy helping people discover their own gifts, no matter what season it is. Those gifts, of course, aren’t the kind that are bought from a store, or wrapped in shiny paper with a big red bow. You don’t find these gifts when you look under the tree on Christmas morning. You find them when you look inside yourself.

It’s often difficult to see our own gifts and talents – especially the ones that don’t seem to us like they’re anything special. That’s why we need other people to point them out to us, much as the angel, “Clarence,” did to George Bailey in the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” When George thought that other people would have been better off if he’d never been born, Clarence showed him how wrong he was, and how much George was needed and treasured by everyone around him.  The movie, by the way, was based on the short story, “The Greatest Gift.”

I was in charge of Table Topics at our “You are a Gift” meeting – which means that I got to ask questions, related to the theme, and call on others to answer them. This was my favorite part of the meeting, and the responses that people gave were touching and inspiring. So now I’d like to put one of the questions to you: In what ways are you a gift to other people?

Spend a little time this holiday season reflecting on that. Think about how much you contribute to other people’s happiness, to their comfort, and to their well-being. Think about the joy you bring to others, and the joy that comes back to you in return. The point of this isn’t for you to think about how much other people owe you or should appreciate you. The point is for you to appreciate yourself, and to recognize how important you are to others. This is true even if they rarely, or never, tell you that themselves – although I hope they do!

It’s often said that one of the best gifts you can give to someone is a gift of yourself – one that comes from the heart. This has always been true, and it always will be.

You are a gift. You give a precious gift to others whenever you give of yourself, whether it’s a gift of your time, your talents, your wisdom, or simply your presence and attention.

And one of the greatest gifts that you can receive this holiday season – or any time throughout the year – is to recognize for yourself, to appreciate, and to celebrate the gift that you are.

Merry Christmas!

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on December 25, 2014.
©Betty Liedtke, 2014

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