23 December 2013

31 – Gifts That Matter

I like Christmas. I like the lights, the trees, and the wreaths. I like the music, and those children’s Christmas specials that I still watch every year. I like seeing friends and family who I don’t get to see very often. And I do like getting some gifts, and giving them as well.

It’s always said that Christmas isn’t all about giving and receiving gifts. I believe that. Even as children, myself and my siblings never bombarded Santa Claus with letters that could’ve passed as the cargo manifest for a departing container ship. We were taught that Christmas was about more than just getting stuff.

I’d like to propose you focus on gifts this year. But not what you give or receive on Christmas Day. Focus on the gifts you’ve been blessed with this past year, as well as those you’ve blessed other people with. You’ll find that gift-giving doesn’t always require swiping plastic or wrapping paper. More importantly, such gifts often leave you feeling good in a way that swiping plastic, wrapping boxes, and signing gift tags seldom can. 

This may be nice, but Christmas ain’t all about that.
I don’t want to take up too much of your time (as you’ve probably got umpteen other things to do), but I’ll run through some of my own gifts from the past year. The new job I started last summer has been a great blessing. I enjoy the work and feel appreciated for what I do for the first time in over a decade. I’m finding success in my role and have earned a couple of promotions. The people I work with are fantastic and helpful and fun and I love seeing them every day. I’ll often show up early and linger late just so I can say hello to people I rarely cross paths with. A lot of these people I am also proud to call friends now. And that’s worth far more to me than a paycheck. Though earning an income is good too!

I’ve received a tremendous gift of inspiration and encouragement this past year as well. Once I’d struck rock bottom last fall, I resolved to resume writing stories and never stop again. I played it close to the chest for a while, partly because I was afraid of what other people might think. But the reactions from my family and friends proved how foolish my assumptions were. Everyone has been incredibly supportive and excited to hear what I’m doing in my spare time. They’ve all urged me to keep going and want to hear about the stories I’m creating. It’s impossible to say what that means to me.

It seems that some of the writing I’ve let out into the world has been a gift to others. Several people have told me that  some essays on The House Newf are among the most inspiring and profound words they’ve ever encountered. Some people have described how some essays have changed the way they look at themselves and the world around them. I don’t toot my own horn and I am a very humble person. Anyone who knows me knows this. But I find this overwhelming, gratifying, motivating, and vital to share. Because it's proof that everyone of us, and the things we do, can always be a gift to others.

I won’t say much about my family and old friends. I’d need another whole essay to give them justice. I’ve written about many of them in other essays already anyways. For example, here, here, and here. They know what they mean to me.

Everyone’s given and received gifts this past year. Several of my good friends at work recently became mothers and fathers for the first time. My cousin’s just become a mother. An old friend’s just had his second boy. Another good friend and his wife will be having their first child this coming spring. I’m not a dad. Not yet anyways. But I can’t imagine how anything could compare with bringing new life into the world. These people have been blessed with the gift to end all gifts.

Christmas is about more than getting or giving gifts. Still, maybe it is a good time to give and receive. But it may also be the best time to take stock of the gifts you’ve given and received during this past year. Because not all gifts arrive in wrapping paper topped off with a bow. And not all gifts arrive under a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Some gifts are just more profound and precious than that. 

Gifts that matter bear a light that banishes the cold and dark from your heart.


  1. Excellently written my friend ! Its a great thing to meet another person that descibes himself as beeing humble. I think appreciating the things you are blessed with is one of the greatest and most important foundations of your own life ! Keep inspiring the world ! Merry Christmas to you. JerriCo@Fitocracy

    1. Thank you Jerri for your kind words. Merry Christmas to you as well. See you on the sweaty workout mat again soon!

  2. Thanks for your gift this Christmas Bob! "It's the gift that keeps giving all year round Clarke."


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The House Newf is from a rugged and beautiful island on the eastern edge of Canada called Newfoundland. He was first identified by a potter with a naturalist's flair, and he does in fact live in a house under the watchful eye of a cat that seems bewildered by the universe at large. That house is in Halifax, Nova Scotia and that's where the House Newf writes fiction and essays on things that add value to his life that may add some value to yours. You can contact him at bobharding80@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter @theHouseNewf, on Instagram @thehousenewf, and like him on Facebook. The House Newf is a unique specimen. Every home should have one.