Holiday Gift Giving With a Twist
by A.J. Ali
Is this a season to be jolly or is it a time to grunt the words “Bah Humbug” whenever we find ourselves standing beneath the mistletoe? There are a lot of reasons for us to look at our glasses as half-full right now, but let’s not. Instead, let’s raise our glasses and toast to what we have before getting the bartender to fill it up again for another fabulous round. In the literal sense, that means a rich and melodious Napa cabernet for me. I love my California wines. In the figurative sense, it means toasting to what good came out of 2009 (such as serious attention to healthcare reform – finally!) and looking forward to a great 2010 now that we know that the rules have changed and we can all adapt to being more frugal and smarter with our corporate and personal decision-making. For now, let’s not let the Grinch steal Christmas, or any other holiday. This year, we can choose for the holiday season to be as joyous as ever because the real reasons for the holidays have nothing to do with the amount of change in our pocket and everything to do with the amount of change we can create in the world. The currency of the holidays is added up in giving, thankfulness, love and renewal. I have a suggestion for us all. Instead of the typical holiday party with friends, lots of great food, festive beverages and décor, let’s add to all of that a bit of hope and giving to those who are truly in need.
Jane and I recently got together with a couple dozen friends at the home of www.PerfectNetworker.com
founder Ken Rochon and his lovely wife Nellie for a little holiday cheer in Ellicott City, Maryland, where we put that thought into action. Instead of just making it about fun, we made it about purpose. We had the fun, we had the food (compliments of Chef Matthew Butler of Chef’s Creations) and we also had a good friend donate a free 7-day trip to Belize for one lucky raffle winner. The trip, courtesy of Jan Ahlman at Sueno, del Mar (www.dreambelize.com
), was won by Patrick Ahern, one of many people who took time out after dinner to listen and participate in a presentation by Jane and I about our Marathon of Miracles cancer prevention and wellness nonprofit. The presentation started with a very short video about one of our programs and was followed up with our “Vision of Hope,” or what we want to accomplish in that community in 2010. We finished up with an invitation to everyone to participate together in impacting the lives of people going through cancer. Literally everyone in the room gave testimony about a friend or family member affected by the disease and all shared stories about how they would help. There were tears of joy throughout the room. The presentation took only 20 minutes of the 2 ½-hour party, but it was most assuredly the highlight of the entire evening.
We all left feeling as if we had not only had a great time, but we also had hope for the holidays and a sense of purpose not quite commonly found at most holiday parties. It was both uplifting and fun. I encourage everyone to consider just how much meaning it would bring to the world if we all would add a twist to our holiday party and join each other in giving the gift of hope to people in need within our community. We may not be able to make much sense out of some things going on today, but for 2 ½ hours with friends, you can give each other a gift that will last a lifetime – the gift of hope and the shared experience of caring for others. I encourage you to reach out to your friends, get someone you know to donate a resort package or spa treatment to give away to a lucky guest, pick a cause that everyone can feel good about, get a chef to prepare some delicious food, bring wine to share, and have a party that will express the true joy of the holidays. I promise it’ll be a time to remember. May God bless you.
© 2009 A.J. Ali
A.J. Ali is a freelance writer and co-author of “The True Champion’s 30-Day Challenge.” His wife Jane is a breast cancer survivor. A.J. and Jane are the Co-Founders of the Marathon of Miracles (MOM) wellness and cancer prevention nonprofit, based in Malibu, CA. Find out more about their wellness work to end cancer and offer hope to survivors at www.survivorcelebration.com