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Tis the season for thinking of what’s in the box. I attended a fundraiser at Tiffany’s over the weekend, admiring the robin’s egg blue box synonymous with its brand. I began flashing back to the occasions when I was presented with gifts from the luxury retailer and attempting to recall my impressions. Oh . . . yes . . . what am I really going to do with the silver spoon I received almost three decades ago when my son was born? While I seem to remember the person who gifted it, and certainly sent a note of gratitude, I have absolutely no idea where the tarnished trinket is today.

Then I began thinking about the statements or sentiments that the donors of such gifts intend to

convey. They may mean to impress while simultaneously applauding a milestone or achievement. Hopefully, all recipients appreciate the significance of the expensive gestures.

But at some point in our lives, do we really need more stuff? At what age, if any, should we stop

thinking inside the box? Perhaps the acts of giving and receiving release endorphins which stimulate health and longevity.

Do not mistake these musings as my bah humbug moment. I recognize that this is the holiday gift-giving season. And it’s the first almost post-pandemic season when we can unwrap presents in the presence of others unmasked. Just the mere ritual of exchanging presents with friends and family conjures up feelings of normalcy. Undoubtedly, this should be an occasion for cautious celebration.

However, there’s always way too much pressure to find the perfect gift for each intended recipient. And then there’s the admission of my aversion to shopping. I haven’t frequented a mall in years. The fluorescent lighting in department stores over the countless racks and displays of merchandise makes me disoriented. And completely unpalatable is the thought of spending even more time on the computer engaging in online shopping. This year, instead of gifting in -- I have made a conscious decision to gift outside of -- the box. For my family, creating lasting memories with my husband and adult children is one of the greatest gifts I can give them (and myself). There is no box large enough for such rewards. I’m hoping that my children will cherish our long family weekends at the lake and vacations both near and far. I hope my son appreciates the time we spend cheering him on as he runs marathons throughout the country and abroad. Priceless are the experiences and laughter shared.

Indeed, life is too short for accumulating boxes.

The same resonates for me professionally. Rather than spending time and expending funds to mail holiday cards and tokens of appreciation to clients and colleagues, I have chosen to donate time and treasure to causes of personal and professional significance. Rather than making a symbolic donation by December’s end, I choose to assist, serve, and donate throughout the preceding eleven months. In my world as an elder law attorney, there are countless aging individuals, in addition to their family caregivers, who need our assistance and attention all 365 days of the year. Recognizing the challenges of aging and caregiving, I intend in the coming year to continue to direct my attention and focus to creating and subsidizing programming to support this growing demographic. We need to constantly think outside the box to help those who are grappling not only with aging, but those suffering from cognitive impairment, chronic illness, and developmental or emotional disabilities. They are amongst those in greatest need of our time, talent, and treasure.

So in the holiday spirit, please understand that my thoughts and prayers are with you. Please know that I deeply care about you and wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday season. I hope that the new year brings all of you the utmost of peace and prosperity.

Just don’t expect to find a card or gift in your mailbox.


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