Imbue your gift with Significance and Meaning.

I first met Tomas when he was around three years old. We were living the communal life and Tomas was my best mate’s step son. Over the years we all had a lot to do with Tomas and I watched him grow up and I think he watched me grow up too!

When he was around 7 I moved cities, promising to stay in touch. I just kept on living my life and soon Tomas was a warm memory.

One day five years later, I got a call that Tomas and his mother were coming to visit me at the city I was living in. His mother told me that it was going to be his birthday when he was visiting, so I went off looking for a gift for a 12 year old.

I went into a scout shop and asked the lady behind the counter what a good gift would be for a 12 year old.

She said “12 is a great age for a boy’s first penknife.” And she showed me a range and I chose one that was really cool with a bone handle. “But…you don’t just give a boy a knife – you have to have a special conversation with him – you sit him down, you tell him that he is now old enough for you to trust him with this gift, that this gift can be a tool for good….or a weapon that will bring him grief. Tell him that you think he is ready to use this as a tool and to only use it for the good of everyone. Tell him that this knife is the beginning of a new time of responsibility for him and that he is being given that gift because he is now ready to receive it.”

I was speechless. It took this simple gift to a new level, a higher level of meaning and significance. I couldn’t wait for Tomas to come.

And when he did come, I took him aside for our talk.

I talked about how much he had grown since I saw him last, I talked about how he was in a new phase of his life – I told him how proud I was of him. (I wondered at the time, if I would have ever had the opportunity to talk with him this way, if I hadn’t gone into that shop and met that lady)

I then told him how I trusted him to be responsible, that I felt that he would be someone I could count on and how his family and friends could count on him. I told him how the gift I was about to give him, could be used for good or for bad purposes, that it could be a useful tool or a destructive weapon and that it would be up to him to choose the best use of this gift.

He started to open the gift as I was talking and his hands shook with delight as this son of a single mother was gifted a knife from an elder male. He was over the moon.

I didn’t see Tomas for many years after that, I heard snippets from his mother over the years and one day I showed up in their city and looked up his mum and asked her what he was doing.

She told me he was in a café across the street, a boy no longer, 21 and a film maker – I couldn’t wait – I raced across the road into the café and saw the familiar blond hair of Tomas – who somehow recognized me – we hugged and laughed together until he said: “Mike” and he put his hand in his pocket….and brought out the knife I gave him all those years ago.

I realized then that something had happened that had taken that simple gift to a new level.

That the gift and the talk acknowledged a transition in Tomas’s life and that that simple knife was imbued with meaning and significance for him and gave him strength and comfort in his everyday life.

I will never forget this and Tomas tells me he never has.

What can you do when you choose a gift, to mark the particular transition that your friend is going through at this time of their life?

What conversation, what ceremony can you create, in order to imbue your gift with a meaning and significance that will last and last in their lives?

What kind of a difference do you want to bring to the people you love?

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