‘Tis the Season. At a loss in finding that perfect gift for someone? Don’t know the size? Don’t know how much to spend? No worries. Maybe, the greatest gift anyone can give is allowing them to make a difference for others, including you.
About 9 years ago I gave my Dad the best present right after Christmas. Trust me it was not intentional. Though, it was inventive. I was home in Honolulu for the Holidays. It was the day after Christmas, and I was having lunch with my friends Dana and Karen at their home. Usually, we’d be at the park for a picnic, but that year we were rained out. I got a call from my best friend John, who lives and works in Tokyo. John is my dearest friend from high school, who was also back for the Holidays with his family. John asked for a favor. He wanted me to teach his sons, Sean and Matt, how to fish before they had to return home to Tokyo.
John knew that I went salmon fishing in Alaska every summer with my Dad. I told John that I really wasn’t the Fisherman Sensei. I really learned fishing from my fishing trips, and my friend and guide Steve. I told John that I could get my Dad to come along and teach his Boys. Dad was the real Sensei. John was totally psyched.
So we scheduled a fishing date for the next day. John picked up bento lunches from his favorite okazuya place. He would meet us at the breakwater at Magic Island at Ala Moana beach.
That morning my Dad got up early, and he went out to get live shrimp for fishing bait. Dad went all old school. Well, he is Old School. We brought along bamboo poles with fishing line. Simple was best. Sean and Matt were about 8 and 7 years old at the time.
My Dad and I met up with John and his sons. The weather was overcast. So it was perfect for fishing. Sean and Matt brought their kids fishing rod and reels that John and his wife Akiko got them for Christmas. Cute. My Dad rigged the Boys’ poles. Wisely, Matt opted for the bamboo pole instead. We were on. Even I fished some.
Both Matt and Sean caught fish albeit small stuff. They were so happy. I watched my Dad bait Matt and Sean’s lines, giving instruction, and fishing side by side. I think I might have teared up some too. That was the greatest gift I gave my Dad.
I don’t have children of my own. So my Dad didn’t have any grandchildren—something he really wanted; though he never said it. Yeah, he’s Old School. Dad got to make a difference as the Grandpa albeit for a day for John’s amazing Boys. I participated with my Dad giving back out of love. I was grateful for him. I was honored. Most of all Dad was so happy too.
Years later, John told me that Matt and Sean always remembered fishing with Mr. Ochiai – my Dad. Dad passed away about 5 years ago and that day remained dear in his heart. That was also my favorite Christmas gift.
Gifts count when you’re giving of yourself. Allow someone to make a difference for others. Allow them to make a difference for you as well. The Holidays are really not about the presents. They are about sharing the love in your heart.
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