Hope you’re well and happy this Christmas. I’ve found myself sitting on the sidelines of the consumer behaviors this holiday season. Unable to participate in gift-buying for the first time since I began working at 12, it’s been a year that allowed me to reflect on the practice of giving gifts. What does the season mean to me? What are the gifts I most want to share?
No surprise…none of them are bought in a store. This poem emerged from my gratitude to a friend that went out of his way to help me find some work recently, when it was the one thing I most needed. Then it led to a broader thought about what men give the people they love.
A Man’s Gift
The greatest gift one man can give to another
Is the dignity of engaging his labor to productive ends
Lending purpose to his brawn or his resolve
Finding value in his existence
Consuming his industry without bias for who he is
And in so doing granting him the proud means to sustain his ambitions
The greatest gift one man can give to his wife
Is the confidence of admiring her love for the world
Offering an audience to her beauty or her kindness
Drinking in the sweetness of her creations
Envying her with sincerity for her unique gifts
And in so doing encouraging her to shine brighter and more eagerly
The greatest gift one man can give to his child
Is the passion for testing boundaries in a game or craft
Providing focus for the limitless energy we all once shared
Imparting a standard for excellence only they can define
Concealing his delight when they rise above him
And in so doing persuading the world that better days lie ahead
- John Oliver
The author was one of the original contributors to the Good Men Project book.
John’s essay about the loss of his daughter, shortly after returning from Iraq, can be found here: “BlindFolded”