Even though Christmas was a month ago, I still quickly smile when remembering my three weeks with family. There was so much that was so right. Although gifts are a minor part of the entire experience, my smile is broad when thinking about a few special gifts.

1-21-15 Ezra'sMoneyGiftMy family enjoys surprising each other with things we think to purchase. We also share a list of needs and wants with each other to make it easier. This year I asked my family for money in addition to some things that I knew they could purchase for me. The money was going to be used to reimburse myself for things I needed, but needed to choose for myself or that I couldn’t fly back with from Atlanta. I made sure to tell my family that gifts of money are not boring and very much appreciated. Perhaps you agree.

This year my niece’s fiancé, Ezra, was in on the gift giving and when I chose to open his gift my niece immediately stood up and got her phone ready to take a picture. In my family that signifies something special is about to occur. It often has to do with capturing the person’s facial expression when unwrapping the gift.

I knew something different was up when Katie stood behind me. Ezra is a creative graphic artist and a really fun guy, but I never would’ve predicted what he took the time to do. Rather than just giving me a check or cash in an envelope, he taped many dollars together so that I could have the joy of pulling them out of a creative box. It was a really fun experience and I very much appreciated the time it took for him to do something so unique.

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Which smarts did Ezra use to think of and then create my surprise?

1-21-15 Andy'sMoneyHeartEzra’s gift was not my only surprise related to money. My nephew, Andy, is also creative. He’s an engineer and has always enjoyed creating, building, and designing. His Christmas gifts to me demonstrated these gifts.

As I chose to open gifts that were from Andy, he immediately told me to be careful. Of course I thought that meant each box might be something breakable and fragile, but that’s not exactly what the boxes contained. Instead each contained origami money.

1-21-15 Andy'sMoneyManAndy had taken different bills and folded them creatively together to make a person and a heart. I was stunned. I love how thoughtful he was to make something special and different. I also enjoyed his joy. He clearly liked surprising me with something only he would think to do in our family.

Which smarts did Andy use to think of and then create my surprises?

Ezra and Andy reminded me that an investment of time and love is huge. Love can activate smarts that are strengths and motivate people to use those that are not strong. Time enriches, strengthens, deepens, and personalizes love. Together, time and love are life-giving. Both caused me to feel known and valued. I remain grateful!

What can you do in the next few days with your time and your smarts so people in your world know they matter to you?