From the 4th century, when gift-giving got started as a Christmas tradition, up to today, we exchange Christmas gifts. But a Christmas present does not necessarily mean a packaged gift box. It is beyond materials things. For me, and the rest of the world, you are the greatest gift.
You are a gift when you smile. A smile is the simplest yet meaningful gift that you can give to others and yourself. When you smile, others will also see and appreciate your good mood without spending any money. Your smile is one of the best yet most valuable gifts you give to your family, friends, and even yourself. Smiling has benefits that transcend the simple act of adding brightness to your face. There are real health benefits related to producing a smile, even when you are not very happy. The act of smiling can alleviate stress, even when the person is not smiling voluntarily. A 2012 study at the University of Kansas demonstrated that individuals with chopsticks within their mouths that created an artificial smile without them realizing what happened showed a reduction in the heart rate and faster recovery from stressful situations. People who always smile are happier and better adjusted to life’s challenges. Smile is also very contagious simply because everyone is a mirror when we see others do the same. Plus, smiling is something that anyone can do and benefit from in their daily lives.
You are a gift when you serve other people. Another greatest gift that you can give is to be of service to others. People are social creatures, which work well once you have a network and make connections. We do best if we have the chance to be part of something larger than ourselves. If most people see themselves and their jobs as contributing to the community’s good, it would mean no work is too small, that each of us serves our unique purpose here on earth. Think of those people such as the front-liners who serve and sacrifice their lives during these unprecedented times. They have given us the greatest gift of service, and even a simple act of kindness can help us make little changes for the better.
You are a gift by simply being who you are. You are beautiful and unique and have so much to offer to the world. What you are is the greatest gift that you can give to yourself and to others. We all feel “lost” sometimes, perhaps after feeling challenged or experiencing a significant life change. Through these challenges, we often uncover actual depths of our character and find new layers of our power. The difficulties that we have are part of growing and learning, which can also serve as a guide to others. So be yourself, nothing more and nothing less.
You are a gift when you love. In the Christian faith, love is the greatest gift from our creator. According to the Bible, there are nine components of love: patience, kindness, humility, generosity, courtesy, unselfishness, good temper, guilelessness, and sincerity. We are called to love one another. When we do things out of love, we can never go wrong. We learn from the life of Jesus that people were accepted and loved, especially those at the social pyramid’s underside—poor people, outcasts, lepers, and tax collectors. Jesus is the perfect model of loving your neighbor as yourself. He is the reason of celebrating Christmas, which is the greatest gift of all.
Always remember that every single thing we do makes a difference that serves as a gift to others, to ourselves and to our Creator.
Rosemarie D. Embile (Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Rosemarie D. Embile is a teacher at the Northern Marianas International School (facebook.com/NorthernMarianasInternationalSchool).