The Hottest Gifts This Year

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.



That Special Something

Everyone’s got something special about them. Even if we don’t see our ‘special-ness,’ others do. Back in grade school, there was one marginally retarded boy in our class. This was back in the times when there were no “special” classes; everyone was in the same room, learning the same things. While this boy had a hard time with most subjects and continually had to be told to be quiet, he had a special genius for knots.

I had seen him untangle a huge ball of Christmas lights (the owner was ready to throw them away), a cat’s cradle of string that was hopelessly knotted, even tangled copper wire. Nothing was too hard for him to put right. He was proud of his ability, and loved it when people brought him things to untangle.

It is a glorious thing when a person of any age discovers their talents and gifts. How sad it is when someone compliments someone on their talent, and they don’t feel that they deserve the compliment! Just because this talent comes easily doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile.

I have always loved words, and have always loved writing and reading. Words come easily to me, and for that I am grateful. It took me years to appreciate this about myself; thinking that these skills were pretty ordinary. (When it came to numbers, I was useless; still am. I don’t have a mathematical mind. I admire people who do; for me, it’s sheer cabalism.)

But that’s how it goes—each of us come to this world with certain gifts. There are people who from an early age can play music faultlessly, or can run miles without stopping, or can speak many languages effortlessly.

But we don’t know what we are capable of until we try. Sometimes the gifts we have are obvious, sometimes not. Imagine what life would be like if only you knew instantly what your talents were! Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Even if your only talent was untangling a knotted mess of string—it is still a gift.


Gifts We Are Given

We come into this world with gifts to give. Sometimes we are so used to them that we discount them as common or something anyone could do. That isn’t necessarily so, however. What you might take for granted may be absolutely amazing to others.

Say that you have a talent for teaching; you find it easy to make complicated theories and processes simple to understand. Since you have always been able to do this, you tend to devalue it as it comes easily for you. But think of all the people to whom this gift unlocks doors of understanding; your teaching makes it easy for them to learn. Moreover, it gives others confidence that they may not have found without you.

Say that you have a great curiosity about technology and how things work. For those of us who are much too impatient to put in the study (and the interest) that you do, you become a guru for the rest of us.

Say that you have a listening ear and an open heart. How many lives can you nourish and encourage with those gifts?

Sadly, many of us doubt or even fear our gifts and choose not to share or even acknowledge them. How much poorer the world would be without those gifts! It is a fact that our egos tend to discount our gifts. The ego always seems to argue with the heart, as if to say, ‘oh, what do you know? You just feel things. I am so much smarter than that!’

Sometimes the heart really does know better, and your heart is where you will find most of your gifts. I have a friend who denied for years that she could hear messages from angels. She kept saying to herself that she was just being silly or seeking attention, or worse; mentally imbalanced.

However, she came to a peaceful understanding with herself that she did indeed get messages from angels. In fact, when she was in the company of some people, she knew right away that this or that person badly needed to hear the message from his or her personal angel.

So how do you know what gifts you have? You will find that you are attracted to certain interests, hobbies, activities, and so on. You may find yourself looking for more information about things that interest you. You may even seek out a teacher who can help you nourish and grow those interests. As the saying goes, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

I know this is true for me; I doubted my gifts for years. I felt that I was just trying to show off; trying to be something I wasn’t—especially while I was in school. Back then, ‘showing off’ was about the worst crime you could commit. It opened you up to endless teasing and being called a ‘know-it-all.’

It took years for me to connect with the right teachers to help me believe in and work with my gifts. Once that happened, I was off and running! It felt wonderful to finally believe in myself. It took more years for me to be able to speak and write about my own gifts with sincerity and humility.

Our gifts are meant to be shared. There is always someone who needs to hear of our gifts and be inspired by them. What you may discount as being superficial or unimportant may be a breakthrough or an epiphany to others.

Believe in your gifts and talents. Believe that you have something to share. But most of all, believe in yourself and your capacity to contribute to this world.

What We Come Into This World Already Knowing

When I was in college I took a couple of great philosophy classes. I had them with a wonderful Indian professor who opened my eyes to some of the great philosophers. Her delightful sing-song-y voice brought glamour and depth to the different philosophies. When I learned about Rousseau’s “tabla rosa” (Latin for “blank slate”) theory; that is, the idea that we are born into this world knowing nothing, I immediately thought, ‘That isn’t right.’

After class I went to my professor and told her what I thought. She looked at me pityingly and said that this was not so, and of course she had years of training and education to back that up. Still, I felt my theory was correct–but stopped talking about it.

I believed then, as I do now, that we do come into this world knowing everything. I believe that we forget things as we get older, and I think that most of the forgetting happens when we are still children. There are people I’ve met in my life with which I had an immediate ‘soul recognition’ and was drawn to them; I felt I had known them forever. Then there have people I met to which I had an instant aversion; they felt somehow toxic to me, and my guard went up any time I was near them. My only explanation for this is that we are born to and with this knowledge.

There were many things I saw, heard and thought as a child, and of course I thought that everyone else in the world saw and heard and thought as I did. Where I grew up, there was a beautiful field across the street full of tall grasses, wild flowers and the smell of what I later learned was chamomile. I spent a lot of time in summer in the middle of that field, lying on my back and making shapes out of clouds. Birds and bugs were busy in it, and as I lay there motionless, they seemed to forget I was there. Grasshoppers sprang from my ankle, to one of my knees and then to the other; a bypass for them through the waving heads of flowers. Once a tiny gold finch landed beside my hand.

One day as I lay in my field, sun-dazed and happy, thinking of nothing in particular, I realized that I could see things in my mind. I’d hear a boat zooming along the lake front and knew that a family of five was in the boat. A plane would fly overhead, and I’d think to myself, ‘they’re flying to someplace in the mountains.’ A neighbor lady would call out the window to her husband, and I knew that they had just been fighting.

Now, I had no way of knowing if any of these things were true, but they seemed so to me–there was a kind of certainty about it. Later on, I also began to see colors in and around people; anger was red, pain was purple or pink, blue meant that something needed attention, grass green meant health, pea green meant sickness, and gold or white meant happiness.

Innocently, I started talking about the colors with other kids at school and what they meant. It didn’t take me long to realize that I should keep these thoughts to myself. I rapidly gained fame as a liar and a showoff, neither of which endeared me to kids or teachers. Once I realized that no one else saw what I did, I stopped talking about it. After a while, I also stopped seeing the colors. It took a long time before other children asking me, ‘hey–ya see any colors on me? Is my head green or what?’

My answer was always the same, ‘nope, nothing.’ After a while the novelty wore off, and they found other kids to pick on. Decades later, when I began taking *Noreen McDonald’s wonderful metaphysical classes, I realized I wasn’t crazy; that I actually had a gift. And what do you know–the colors came back!

I still believe that we come into this world knowing a great deal. Also, I now know that many people can see colors, hear things, feel things, and know things because that is their particular gift. I am sure that these gifts were part of us as we came into the world, and that we are meant to share and use them.

The best thing I learned was that what we may first view as a curse often turns out to be our greatest strength.

*To find out more about Noreen’s classes, please visit her website at