“A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.”
The holiday season is about giving and I’d like to honor the gift that you can’t find in a mall – the gift of self. I am always moved by the many stories I hear this time of year. All across Inova, we adopt families and purchase gifts that bring a little extra holiday sparkle to disadvantaged members of our community. Many local organizations hold special events for our children in the hospital – the donated piles of toys would make any child wide-eyed with delight.
Recently, an Inova family member was unable to work for an extended period of time. The bills mounted quickly and with young children at home, she was in serious trouble, fearful of not having enough money to buy groceries. An anonymous colleague learned of the situation and stepped up with a very generous PTO donation enabling her to be compensated while out of work. Gifts from the heart leave their mark on the world forever.
The funny thing about this type of gift though is that we tend to get back way more then we give. If you’ve been in this situation, you know exactly what I’m talking about; it’s just so difficult to put into words. A friend of mine smiled knowingly at my dilemma. She told of a man who was able to help her overcome a major hurdle in her life that had her stuck and unable to move forward, mostly out of fear. He had an innate ability to see the situation clearly and objectively, call her out on her role in the matter and advise her with concise, practical and doable tasks. Within three months she was out of an abusive job situation. Several years later this man opened a retreat center four hours from here. She drove down on moving weekend and helped unload the trucks and clean the place up. It was a bit of a fixer-upper, so several work weekends were held over the next two years. “I worked every weekend that I possibly could,” she said. “Why? At first it was to express my gratitude for the gift of sanity and to ‘repay’ my debt. But after working two full days painting, cleaning, doing dishes, weeding, whatever, I would drive home exhilarated. I always left feeling that I got way more in return then what I gave. I’ve always found it so hard to explain why driving a total of eight hours and working like a dog for two days is fun.” I, too, smiled knowingly because it is such a wonderful feeling that is near impossible to explain.
The other type of gift I love, and some of the most memorable gifts, are the homemade ones. When my kids were younger, it was the clay paperweight and the artfully decorated pencil holder wrapped in construction paper. It’s been rumored that this year, Santa and his elf have been handing out homemade gifts and I’m so excited to have received mine. This is a gift brought to you by our top Inova vocalists. If you haven’t received your CD yet, contact your human resources department or you can click here to listen to the songs.
Once again, our Inova family stepped up to the plate and delivered!
The good news is that giving ourselves is a gift we are able to give year round. I am blessed to witness this often at Inova. You know you are at Inova when you hear about a colleague who gave his winter coat to a patient in need. You know you are at Inova when you have a nurse who takes the extra moment to listen. You know you are at Inova when you see a colleague escorting a lost visitor. You know you are at Inova when folks stop to ask, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” The greatest gift is the ability to offer ourselves.
You know you are at Inova when _________________. (Please fill in the blank.)