The coming holidays have me contemplating the meaning of a gift.
In searching for a definition, I turned to Merriam-Webster (of course).
The dictionary’s first description calls a gift “a notable capacity, talent, or endowment.”
I take this to mean something that is often already given; a type of privilege granted by birth, position or nurture.
For example, although my family didn’t have a lot when I was young, I consider my parents’ push for education to be a gift that has returned ongoing rewards. I learned to read, to write and to share this gift with others. This was my parents’ legacy. I learned that not all endowments are trust funds.
The dictionary’s second definition of gift is “something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation.” I suppose the presents under the tree fall into this category.
But so do acts of volunteering — of assistance or energy, skills or talents. These are not easy gifts to give: They take time and effort, and might be outside of our comfort zone.
But the rewards reaped prove over and over again that not all gifts arrive via Amazon Prime.
And finally, Webster defines a gift as “the act, right, or power of giving.”
This may be the most relevant to the season. It’s the act of giving that lifts us out of the self-absorption of day-to-day life and drives us to honor the wishes and dreams of others — friends, family and, yes, even strangers.
So, as December begins and we brace for the holiday rush, my hope is to embrace both the power of giving and the graceful acceptance of gifts from others.
I hope you’ll join me. What better way to celebrate the spirit of the season?
— Mary Kate Leming, Editor