Merry Christmas! I’ll be celebrating with my family on Long Island and then it’s off for a spontaneous trip to Dublin for New Year’s Eve. (Be careful when reading travel specials online, you can convince yourself that irrational trips make sense!)
You are undoubtedly busy at this time of year with work and home, so I’ll keep this short.
I originally intended to write about how to deliver negative feedback as a follow-up to my last blog which was all about the opposite, looking for ways to give positive feedback.
But it just seemed so wrong to be sending that message out this time of year. Not to mention that I was reminded yesterday of a life lesson way more important and I wanted to share that lesson with you.
Ironically, it’s the perfect time of year for this lesson since it’s all about the BEST present you can give.
It is one size fits all, costs you nothing and is on the top of everyone’s list (even if it’s not written there!)
What is this special gift? Your presence.
Yesterday, it was my Grandmother’s 97th birthday. I drove to Connecticut to spend the day with her. (She lives in the nursing home where I used to be Administrator so she is surrounded with people that I adore and that adore her.)
After lunch, on the drive back to her home I said to her, “Happy birthday!”
She turned to me and with such enthusiasm in her eyes exclaimed, “Happy birthday to you too!”
Lest you think we share a birthday, mine was actually in October. But it didn’t matter.
She was so full of love and excitement that I couldn’t help but to feel instantly better. I’m no Grinch but it felt like my heart grew two sizes at that very moment!
I shared this story on my Facebook page last night and lots of people wrote to me about how they miss their grandparent or parent.
A bunch told me how lucky I am to still have my Grandmother in my life and they are so right.
But here’s the thing. There was a while when I was so “busy” that I sometimes resented when I “had to” visit my grandmother. It’s close to a two hour ride and because I’m always running somewhere, most of the time I spend more time in the car then I do visiting.
The ridiculousness of that guilt hit me a couple of years ago. Why am I visiting out of obligation instead of enjoyment? What if I changed my mindset from “having to visit” to “wanting to visit”?
And like that I decided to switch those awful thoughts in my head to, “I want to visit” because really, I truly did. I stopped with the pity party of guilt that I hadto visit.
I make an effort to be present, which is tough given the fact that it’s not easy to have a conversation with her. But the rewards are worth it. I often get little gems that instantly cheer me up when I think of them.
I mean really, how can I not smile when I think of “Happy birthday to you too!”
So this year give the people around you, whether they are family, friends or staff, the greatest gift you can give. Your presence.
Accept that there may be a few seconds of silence or a break in the action and you don’t have to respond by checking your phone. Fight that trigger!
Be present. Listen for the gems. They will not always be there, but your email will.
Whatever you celebrate, may you be surrounded with those you love and that love you!
Happy birthday my friends!