For most of my life, I have been more comfortable giving than receiving. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I learned what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a truly amazing gift. That gift was the culmination of the year that changed my life.
It all began on New Year’s Day 2015, when I received an email telling me that I had been accepted into a yoga teacher training program. While I only taught yoga for few months, that program was the catalyst for a windfall of changes that were to come. I left my soul-crushing corporate job and started my own business as a freelance writer. I also ended a yearlong on-again, off-again relationship that had drained all of my energy and shaken my self-confidence.
As soon as I made those changes in my life, everything started to fall into place. I met my boyfriend in August of that year. He was kind, supportive and loving. He offered everything I had been looking for in a relationship but wasn’t sure existed.
Around that time, I also discovered a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. That book was another step on my journey in a year of self-discovery. I started going through each phase of the KonMari method, with my boyfriend gently encouraging me along the way.
I took all of my suits and business attire and donated them to a charity called Dress for Success that helps woman re-enter the workforce. And I donated carloads of furniture and household items to other charities. I sorted through stacks of old letters and photographs and put my past in order.
For me, it was more than a housecleaning project. It was transformative. With each step, I felt liberated. And I felt closer to my true self than I had in years. As I went through the process, I decided to commit to minimalism as a lifestyle. I still enjoy and appreciate my possessions. But I am very mindful about what I purchase and more importantly, why.
My boyfriend never asked me what I wanted for Christmas that year. And if he did, I wouldn’t have known what to say.
He came over on Christmas morning and we exchanged a few small items. Then he presented me with a box. I opened the box and found layers of tissue paper, each with a handwritten notecard in between. The first notecard read: “What do you get a Minimalist for Christmas?”
Each notecard after that had the name of a charity that my boyfriend had donated to in my name. He had carefully selected the charities based on what was meaningful to me. He adopted a giraffe (my favorite animal) from the Word Wildlife Foundation. He donated to the Rainforest Alliance because we had recently learned about how palm oil production was leading to the demise of the rainforests. (At that time, I was protesting by not purchasing any items that contained palm oil!)
The last card was an invitation for me to put on a pretty dress and join him for dinner at a restaurant we had been wanting to try. As I read through each card, I began to cry. In a year when I had no expectations for Christmas, somehow my boyfriend managed to create one of the most special moments in my life.
Every year, my boyfriend continues to surprise me with his creative and thoughtful Christmas gifts. He is a wonderful person, and I am extremely lucky to have met him. Sharing my life with him every day is the best gift of all.