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In the ‘me-centric’ glow that can sometimes blind us (or maybe our kids) at Christmas — you know, the sea of sentences that start with “I want” or less demanding “I would like…” — it’s always nice to be reminded of why the season is truly about giving.

It’s a philosophy that is sometimes hard to remember when you’re whipped up in a whirlwind of travel and obligations, holiday cocktail parties, wrapping, credit card bills you don’t want to look at (because that handy little ‘Christmas money saver tip’ – – you know, the one that tells you to save all year would have been MUCH handier last January) and the stack of never ending cards to send. Today, SWAGG and Clever Girls Collective have asked me to share the greatest gift I’ve ever given.

In the wake of our first holiday gift guide that was full of wonderful toys, clothes and whatnots, my answer may disappoint. It’s not bright and shiny. Although it’s tangible, you can’t wrap it.

The greatest gift I’ve ever given? Myself.

I don’t mean it in a self-indulgent or self-aggrandizing kind of way. I simply mean that even though I agonize (and I do) over what to get all of the important people in my life each holiday season, I frequently forget that the best thing I can give them is an open ear, a phone call, chat over a cup of coffee or quick note/email asking about their day. Even with my own child, I sometimes have to remind myself to slow down and give her 100% of my attention, instead of diverting 25% in another direction in an attempt to multitask.

Recent events have reminded me that being present not only helps ground yourself, but also those around you. And quite honestly, that is truly a gift.

My grandfather passed away last weekend. There is probably a more eloquent way of saying it, but dressing it up seems counter-intuitive since there is nothing elegant about death or cancer. All of us were worried about my grandmother because she hadn’t done anything in 59 years that didn’t include him. What do you do when your honest-to-goodness better half is no longer around? While the services took place Friday and Saturday, I arranged with my husband to go up the Wednesday before and spend some one-on-one time with my grandmother.

It was just a few hours. We didn’t solve the problems of the world or pontificate about our favorite authors. There was no checklist of things that needed to be accomplished. Part of the time we didn’t talk at all, rather sat around the kitchen table in a comfortable silence. No smartphone. No television. No radio even. Just a quiet afternoon, some old memories, six Christmas ornaments, two cups of tea, a few tears and a bit of peace. As one of two primary caregivers for my grandfather as he battled aggressive esophageal cancer, my grandmother had almost as many war wounds as he did. Hers just weren’t quite so visible.

I’m grateful that we had a chance to talk before the deluge of family arrived and everyone put on their public funeral facade. For those of you who have lost a loved one, you know exactly the face I mean. Personally, I have a terrible ‘brave face.’ My grandmother’s is much more convincing.

Sometimes we need someone to give us a quiet space to take down our guard. Enabling that space for someone else is a gift.

In retrospect, maybe this isn’t a post about the greatest gift I’ve ever given. Maybe it’s a post about the greatest gift I’ve ever received.

Learn more about the coolest new app that revolutionizes the whole shopping, gifting, and gift card-organizing experience and Download the SWAGG app to your iPhone or Droid. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity.