Opinion: The best gift to give yourself, and not feel guilty about it

Here we are, less than a week from Christmas, and like most people, I still have shopping to do. How boring Christmas would be if I had everything organized.

Starting around mid-November, anything I buy that’s non-perishable gets wrapped and put under the tree. I think I have some shampoo and a package of printer paper under there. That’s where my surprises come from on Christmas morning, getting all the stuff I forgot I bought myself.

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My kids are older now, so there’s no late-night toy assembly required. My biggest miscalculation was the barbecue my sisters and I bought for my parents one year. Almost didn’t get any sleep that night.

For all the gifts I receive at Christmas, one I enjoy most doesn’t show up under the tree, and lasts for more than a day. One gift I cherish is one I give myself.  The gift of gratitude.

For all the appliances, tools, toys (OK, more tools) and other things we accumulate at Christmas (many of which never get used and end up on Varage Sale), giving to someone else, especially someone I may never know, is what makes this time of year special.

Sometimes it’s a small thing, like holding a door for someone who would struggle otherwise. Maybe it’s letting someone merge in traffic, even if it isn’t their turn, and I get a “thank you” wave.

I try and volunteer for different things throughout the year, like the Tour de Delta. I don’t know any cyclists, see a few spectators I know, but for the most part it’s just so that we can have a great event take place in Delta, even if it is a little expensive (I think it’s worth it).

I donate to the Toy Depot, so a parent can give their child something under the tree at Christmas. As I’ve said before, it’s not the gift that matters to a child. For that one day, they get to be like their friends at Christmas, able to share what they got under the tree like the other kids, instead of having to say Santa missed them, again. And it gives the parents one day they can feel like they aren’t letting their child down, when so many other times in life the answer has to be “no, we can’t.”

For the past four years, I had the honour of being president of the Deltassist board of directors. I’ve heard the stories of people truly in need, of people who feel they have nowhere to turn, and of how Deltassist staff help them. I played a small part in supporting the agency, but one I am very proud of. I stepped down this year to let someone else lead the board, but stayed on as a director to continue lending a hand.

It seems the more I help others, the happier, and luckier, I get. When your day starts off being grateful for a loving family, to live in such a safe, caring community, the things that do go wrong in life are dwarfed by the good things that happen.

Gratitude is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. No wrapping required.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Brad Sherwin, MBA is a long-time resident of South Delta, and has almost 30 years’ experience in marketing, public relations and business strategy. He teaches marketing at Douglas College, coaches hockey goalies and is past president of the board of directors at Deltassist. 


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