I was asked in response to my last blog on giving meaningful gifts to children if there were other gifts that would measure up to or complement the gift of A Love of Nature.
I certainly think there are a few other gifts that I have tried to pass on to my kids – both during the holidays and everyday throughout the year. Here are the ones that come to mind.
Love of Reading – One can expand your child’s horizons without them ever leaving their bedroom, their backyard, or their favorite spot in the woods. The whole earth can be their oyster if you take the time to help them fall in love with reading. It is a door to the past, the present, and the future, their future. Start by sharing your favorite books and reading together.
Exposure to a Larger World – This can be done by reading books and the news, and by interacting with people and families from other cultures. I find it of great value to read or watch the news from the perspective of a different country (The Week, BBC News, Al Jeezera, El Mundo). Ideally, each of us should have the opportunity to study or work for months in a different land.
Self-confidence to Play Sports – I coached soccer and basketball for years while my children were growing up. I really didn’t care if I was creating Olympic level or professional athletes. I did care that everyone got the chance to play and learn the love of the game, the ability to work as a team, and the rewards of hard work.
Appreciation of Nature – To be comfortable outside is, as I have said before, one of the greatest gifts you can give to another person. All the data suggests that a half hour out in nature each and every day makes us happier, healthier, more creative, and more productive. Start at an early age and inspire others to make this a daily habit. Everyday I discover something new. This morning I saw nine canvasbacks on Lake Elkhorn – a first for me. Go take someone on a walk today and discover a whole new world.
Eating Well – learning to eat and drink to enhance your life and not detract from living life fully is a real gift. So many of us don’t appreciate the taste and satisfaction of drinking water (versus sugar sweetened beverages). The satisfaction of eating just enough – just what our bodies require. We don’t appreciate the value of eating unprocessed foods, the value of eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and the wide range of tastes available with the right herbs and seasonings available from so many lands and cuisines. We should always take the time to step back from the excessive offerings in our country and think before we choose.
Take-a-way: These gifts will last a lifetime. The trick is to figure out good ways to make these types of gifts replace the stuff usually given to others during the holidays. You can start by giving a card or something a little more tangible and connecting it to a larger experience or adventure.