The best gift


The holidays are approaching, with the expectation of giving and receiving gifts. Advertisers ask, “Have you bought all your gifts yet?”

Stacey Kramer, in her TED Talk “The Best Gift,” shares her experience with a very special gift she received. As she described it, this small unexpected gift brought her entire family together. It made her feel loved and appreciated like never before. She reconnected with friends and acquaintances she hadn’t heard from in years. She was overwhelmed with adoration. The experience even redefined her spirituality and her faith.

What was this incredible gift? Something from Amazon? A device with an Apple logo, perhaps?

No, it was nothing of the sort. OK, I wasn’t totally honest a moment ago. Her talk is actually titled “The Best Gift I Ever Survived,” about her recovery from a brain tumor. It’s only three minutes long and has been viewed almost 4 million times. You can find it on YouTube.

Now, we all recognize that it wasn’t the tumor itself that was the gift, but the response of Stacey’s family and friends, reminding her that she was special; that she was loved. So, my question is this: Do we have to wait until someone is diagnosed with cancer to share these feelings?

Think back to your childhood. Do you remember how the holidays felt? Many remember them as magical, hopeful and happy. And how does the holiday season feel to you now as an adult? Maybe stressful, chaotic? Why the change?

I suggest that, in our holiday busyness, we tend to focus on the wrong things: long shopping lists, hectic schedules, one-too-many holiday programs, tight budgets and overloaded credit cards. Sometimes it takes a bolt of lightning like a cancer diagnosis to remind us of what is important — family, friends, time together, hugs, holiday dinners and sharing the stories of our lives.

No disrespect to, but you can’t buy that online. Your time and attention have to be delivered in person, and that’s what makes it the best gift you can give.

May true peace in the holiday season abide with you all.

Duane Highley is president and CEO of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., (AECI) and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC). AECI, a statewide service co-op, and AECC, a wholesale power supply co-op, are owned by Arkansas’ 17 local distribution co-ops, which provide retail electric service to more than 1 million members.