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May and June are perennial gift-giving months: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations, and weddings, more than enough to give Santa’s elves off-season employment. Gifts are meant to say many things, from “Thank you,” to “Love you,” to “Enjoy!”

Finding just the right gift is an art all on its own. It demands time, sensitivity and feeling the inner “Ah-ha!” That says, “Can’t miss.” Cash, checks and gift cards may save time, anguish, and Santa’s T-shirted elves rolls of wrapping paper, but still carry the same sentiments.

Down the years I have learned, when it comes to relationships and gift-giving, there are certain gifts everyone has to offer year round – gifts not found anywhere else (not even on Amazon.com) but only in one’s heart and mind. Five pieces of every self can let another know how deeply they are treasured.

 The gift of one’s time is actually a gift that is a piece of one’s life. Think about it. When one considers the fragility and brevity of life, time becomes more precious than gold. Time shared with my friends is a gift given and received and one that enriches and deepens their caring.

But time without presence, the gift of being nowhere else, becomes cut-rate. True presence renders time priceless – and often non-existent. Think of an instant when time disappears to know what I am saying.

Acceptance, the third gift, may be difficult, but that is what makes it so precious. To accept the reality of another’s being means more than tolerance (putting up with); it is presence without judgment, being open to differences, even if disagreeing but recognizing and respecting how life happens differently for everyone.

Compassion is understanding with empathy. It means “feeling with,” not “feeling sorry for.” Compassion is the meeting place for our shared humanness, a step beyond judgment and, perhaps, a need to forgive. It is a step into embrace. It is where eyes and souls  meet and healing often happens. Compassion is the warming and offering of self that lets another know they are not alone.

The fifth gift is, inescapably, love itself, which is essential to all the others. The many definitions of love could fill a midnight sky, but the love one gives needs to be bright with the truth of self. There is no greater gift one can give another than the love the other gifts add up to. They are, after all, one package, wrapped and ribboned in the uniqueness of any – and ideally – every self.