When I was in high school I lived with my grandmother. During that time, my grandmother and I developed a strong bond and relationship. In 2002, I left home after signing a scholarship to play basketball for Portland State University. While I was in college, I would call my grandmother 5-6 times a week before she went to bed to say hello and let her know I was thinking about her. We would laugh and she would tell me what she was watching on television, mostly CSI, she loved that show! In the summer of 2007, my wonderful grandmother passed away unexpectedly. She had been dealing with various challenges related to her health and unfortunately for me her time had come to make her transition.

As we approach Christmas, I couldn’t help but think about the most valuable gifts my grandmother gave me that I continue to cherish until this very day. My grandmother lived life on her own terms without much regard to popular ideals or traditions and didn’t really stress herself out during the holidays buying gifts. She instead chose to invest her wisdom and love into her family on a daily basis. One of her favorite quotes was “Give me my roses while I can smell them“, a quote she lived up to every day in my life.

Here are 3 gifts my grandmother gave me that outweigh any of the material gifts I’ve received in my life:

GIFT OF COMMITMENT

We lived 20 miles from the high school I attended and the bus used to pick my brother and I up at 6:40am. Well, we often missed that bus and we would rely on grandma or grandpa to give us a ride to school. There was never a morning that my grandmother told us “no” when we really needed her to come through for us. She would have grandpa jump out of bed and drop us off at the next bus stop or drive us all the way to school. The commitment she demonstrated in my life really gave me what I needed to overcome many of the challenges I faced as a young man.

GIFT OF FREEDOM

Prior to living with my grandma, I lived in an environment where I was in a constant state of fear. My mother and step-father at the time had high expectations of my brother and I when it came to chores, grades, and extra-curricular activities. I still remember the angst that I lived with between 3rd and 5th grade. I was so afraid of what might happen if I made a poor decision. When I began living with my grandmother, she gave me the freedom to explore who I really wanted to be while providing me with the support and wisdom I needed to make quality decisions for myself. Her confidence in me not only gave me freedom, but it empowered me to trust my own instincts as I became an adult.

GIFT OF WISDOM

Living with my grandmother was like living with the author of the book of Proverbs. She knew what to say; when to say it; and how to say it! One of my favorite quotes from her was “It’s better to be thought of as a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt“. There are at least 10 quotes that I hear in my head on a weekly basis from my grandmother that shape my decisions in some manner. There’s a verse in the book of Proverbs that says “For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things that may be desired are not compared to it“. Well, I suppose my grandmother knew that as well because that’s what she chose to pass on instead of material possessions.

My grandmother’s spirit continues to inspire me to be a greater man long after her transition to the next phase of life. And while material possessions can be fun and exciting, I’m really glad that I got the opportunity to have my grandmother in my life. I wouldn’t trade any of the wisdom she imparted me with for anything in the world.

As you engage with your family and friends during the holiday season, search out opportunities to pass on experiences that will echo throughout history in the lives of those you love. While tossing those toys in the basket, throw a little commitment, freedom, and wisdom in the basket as well.

Peace & Blessings,

-Keith