Now that I have granddaughters, I check out the hottest, most desirable toys each year. I’ve carefully looked over all the ads, seen all the commercials, and even listened in on kids in the stores telling their parents what they want.
So out of all this extensive research, I have come up the perfect list of the best gifts that our kids should have. Here they are, in no particular order:
Kindness: Truly, this is a gift that keeps on giving. As ugly and hurtful words stick in the mind and make us feel terrible, kindness is one of those gifts that keep on giving. It costs us nothing, but the payoff is immense.
Gratitude: When we feel gratitude for what we have, whether it’s a lot or a little, gratitude makes us happy. Gratitude makes it possible for our hearts to expand, to make us think of others and give when we can, and to be joyful for so much.
Love: Perhaps the most wonderful gift of all. When we give love and receive love, we are made richer than the wealthiest king who ever lived. Love expands our hearts and minds, and it comes in all sizes.
Joy: Pure joy is the essence of combined love, happiness, gratitude and kindness. It is powerful and transforming, and once we feel it, we never forget its transforming power.
Peace: Ever watch a baby, or a cat or dog sound asleep? They are totally relaxed, wrapped in beautiful dreams, and are peaceful in mind, body and soul. Peace is felt when we are happy, content and grateful. Peace means that we don’t have to worry every moment of every day; peace is within and around us always. It may not always look that way, but it is there just the same.
Happiness: Happiness can come from so many places! It can manifest as joy, comfort, peace, gratitude and sheer delight in the day. Happiness bubbles up and fills us utterly and completely. It makes us forget sorrow or pain, and leaves its tender prints on our hearts for all time.
Sharing: After the total devastation of floods, wild fires, earthquakes and so on when so many people lost their lives, their belongings and their homes, they found it in their hearts to share what little they had left. On the news I watched as two women shared one piece of bread and one slice of cheese together. Neither was enough to fill all their empty places, except for their hearts.
Compassion: When we feel compassion for others, we expand our hearts, minds and souls. We are shown that we are not alone, that we matter, and that we have much to give. Compassion and forgiveness often go hand in hand; compassion gives us the great gift of putting ourselves into another’s shoes, and see things from the other person’s point of view.
Imagination: Truly one of the best gifts anyone can have! If you want to see imagination in action, put a child into an empty cardboard box. You can see them becoming pilots, captains of great ships, railroad engineers, bus drivers, explorers, and spacemen. Listen to the noises that they make, and the smiles on their faces. This is imagination of the highest kind.
Empathy: When you can feel in your heart and mind what another person is going through; a death of a loved one, a lost job, a house fire, and so on—you are feeling what the other person feels. You may not have the words to tell them this, but a hug, a handshake, an offer to help will make all the difference in the world to someone who is suffering.
Creativity: This, too, is one of the best gifts. Some people have talents for music, singing, acting, crafting, playing games, writing, and so on. Creativity comes in many forms, and they all count; they all matter. Creativity should be encouraged, praised, and helped along at any cost. Creativity makes our world a better place.
Forgiveness: Forgiveness is the gift we should value above all. Granted, it is hard to be hurt by someone, especially by someone you care for. Forgiving them sets you and them free. Wishing bad things on those who have hurt us makes us small and mean, and it doesn’t hurt the one who hurt us in the first place. But forgiving them, well—it makes a permanent change of heart that makes life better and helps us forget the bad times.
These particular gifts can’t be wrapped up in paper and bows. These are gifts we can demonstrate and encourage, both for ourselves and our family and friends. Children who are raised with some or all of these gifts make us all better, kinder, more loving and giving.
These are gifts that never break, never go out of style, never get lost, and they last forever.