Intangible Gifts Bring Joy This Holiday Season
By Julie Hall

As an expert in personal property, my days are filled with visiting estates, consulting with my clients, and ascertaining what has value versus what does not. I help Boomer children make sound estate decisions after mom and dad have passed on. Also, I work closely with seniors helping them make a plan for their heirlooms and appraising the worth of their collectibles.

My world revolves around beautiful things and what each item may be worth. Sadly, I have to watch people fight over them after a loved one dies. Having met with thousands of individuals in my life, I have learned from each and every one of them.

As I think about the current economic situation, and the many that are shadowed by their financial and employment concerns, I can\’t help but go back to those experiences which have “showed me the way”, and have enabled me to live a grounded life. Following are some problems and solutions for you to reflect on during this holiday season.

We exit this world the way we enter it.

When we enter this world, we own nothing. When we leave this world, we own nothing but a beautiful spirit that houses love and memories earned over a lifetime. You can\’t take anything with you, so why fight over things? Yes, sentimental things are of great importance, but if you can\’t divide equitably, find a way to share or just let them go. No need to lose a sibling over them. This would truly upset (and dishonor) the deceased loved one.
If this has already taken place, the best gift you could ever give anyone is making amends and dissolving the estrangement. No excuses; just find a way, or at least make an attempt. In this way, you can at least say that you tried, and you can go forth with your life, knowing you did all you could do. If this hasn\’t happened to you, do everything in your power to prevent it.

Things bring instant gratification, but not long-lasting happiness. So, we keep buying more things to keep feeling good.

Too many of us fill our lives with things to ease unresolved pain and issues. As we continue to go out there, go into debt, and buy ourselves the latest electronic gadget, we are still left unfulfilled and discontented. We buy to feel good. We buy because we deserve it. We buy because we are depressed. But in the long run, each item ends up in the hands of family or a professional to sell it.

There are some who believe “He who dies with the most toys wins.” There are others who feel “He who dies with the most toys, dies anyway.”

So what should we do?

  • Dress the less fortunate by going through your clothing, shoes, etc. Do the same for the food in your pantry.
  • Head into your attic and garage and start clutter-busting. So many things we have are not being used — and can be used by someone who needs them. Find those organizations and give them away.
  • Start practicing the art of giving, and refrain from unnecessary purchases for at least six months.
  • A cluttered house is often reflective of a cluttered life. Do yourself and your family a favor and clear out while you can, and help others in the process. The end result is a long-lasting and satisfied feeling.

Gift giving ideas: you never know what to buy for certain people, and it can be quite costly. What to do?

Why buy anything? Why not give the best gift in the world — yourself.

  • Go visit someone you have been meaning to see for a long time. Surprise a loved one you haven\’t seen for years.
  • Write that letter, bake those cookies.
  • Volunteer for those needing your help or visit shut-ins.
  • Make that phone call to make amends, because you and your mother haven\’t spoken in years.
  • Bring your children to an assisted living or nursing home, and watch the residents light up. Have your children draw pictures and then visit and sing for those in shelters or facilities.
  • Say what you need to say, and do so right now.
  • Ask for forgiveness and always offer it, no matter what.
  • Offer hugs to those who really need it.
  • Make gifts for everyone on your list.
  • Listen to your elders because you will learn so much.

Do you have a senior on your holiday list and you don\’t know what to give them?

  • Spend a full day with them and ask them to share stories of your family history — fun stories, challenges, family secrets, marriages, customs — and look through old photos.
  • Record this day and create a book for them (with copies for your family members), so it may be passed down for years to come. Many children regret not having more family history, but realize this only after the loved one has died.
  • Find a special photograph and frame it.
  • Ask an elder for a secret family recipe, so it can be carried on; then make it for them.

When we think of the upcoming holidays, we also need to be counting the multitude of blessings we do have, rather than wishing for the ones we don\’t have. Make it a special holiday for others, and it will come back to you, in the form of contentment and joy — both in giving and in receiving.

copyright 2010, The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, known as The Estate Lady, is a professional estate liquidator and certified personal property appraiser. With more than eighteen years experience, she has assisted thousands of individuals in the daunting and often painful process of managing their deceased parents\’ affairs.  She is a best-selling author and speaker to Boomers and their parents.

Web address: http://www.theestatelady.com

Email address: Julie@theestatelady.com