Leaving a Priceless Gift for Loved Ones…
Life is short. Legacies – those tangible and intangible gifts that we create for our families, friends and even those we may never meet – live on long after we are gone. It is an oft-held belief that leaving a legacy that stands the test of time involves passing along financial wealth or property to someone you love. While ensuring that your loved ones are in a position to take care of themselves once you are gone is the textbook definition of a legacy, there are many ways to make a lasting impression that have nothing to do with money. Those gifts of the heart can be given no matter how much or how little you have in your bank account. Follow along for a dozen ways to leave a legacy of love.
• Create a signature dish, write the recipe down and teach a family member how to prepare it. There is something about food prepared with love that can transport people back to a treasured moment with a loved one.
• Teach a trade or skill you have mastered to someone from a younger generation. As the world begins to move quickly, there isn’t always enough time to share our wisdom. Take someone under your wing. Whether it is the time-honored craftsmanship involved in woodworking, quilting, sewing, metalsmithing or masonry, these are creative and functional gifts you can pass along. The world will thank you.
• Make sure your children and grandchildren know “the basics.” Teach them the art of tying a tie, hemming a dress or pressing a shirt like a pro. Show them how to plant and nurture a garden and how to love a pet. Show them how to take pride in their space – no matter how big or small it is. Explain how to balance a checkbook, how to save and how to invest. These are life lessons they will carry into adulthood and pass along to future generations.
• Create a piece of artwork that can be passed on to your descendants. Art is a gift – not only for the person who creates it, but for those who get to experience it. You’ll enjoy the process of painting your favorite landscape, throwing a stunning piece of pottery on a wheel, writing a beautiful melody or crafting a piece of furniture – and giving something you created to your family means they will always have a piece of your heart.
• Put together a photo album, scrapbook and a family tree. If you know where you have come from, you can find the strength to get where you are going. Make sure your family knows their personal history. Print out your photos and make sure they are labeled with names, birth dates and places of birth whenever possible. Share the stories of your ancestors with the ones who are here to walk in their footsteps or carve new pathways.
• Start a charitable organization in honor of a cause that is near and dear to your heart. It is not about the money – it is about making a commitment to someone you may never meet. Get others involved in the process of building a scholarship fund. Gather a group that will collect winter coats for those in need. Spearhead an organization that pairs homeless pets with
someone who would love a four-legged best friend. A huge leap is not required to make a difference. It just takes a steady stride of small steps in the right direction.
• Start a tradition. Whether it’s working at a soup kitchen on Christmas Day with your family or reading books to an awe-inspired circle of children at the library each week, do something that makes a difference for someone else and make a habit of it.
• Tell your story. Share your life experiences with your loved ones – the happy moments, the not-so-happy ones, the times you have been embarrassed and those that leave you doubled over in laughter at the thought. That vulnerability – the ability to be a perfectly imperfect human
being – is a rare and precious gift.
• Record love messages for your family. Whether you make a series of tapes or videos, record a podcast or write a memoir, find a fun way to tell your loved ones how much they matter to you and all of the ways they make you proud. Sometimes, words get lost in the shuffle of everyday life. Having the ability to hear your words or a chance to see you on camera when your loved ones need it most is a treasure of monumental proportions.
• Make sure your affairs are in order. This is not necessarily about making sure you leave your home to your children or your life savings to your grandchildren – although it is necessary to make sure you have everything
allocated as you see fit. It is about making sure that there are no loose ends for someone else to have to tie up later. Discuss your plans with family so you are on one accord. Get rid of any stuff you do not need. Leave a blessing and not a burden to your family.
• Spend quality time with your loved ones. Take epic vacations together – even if they are only in your backyard. The time spent connecting with your loved ones will be something they will remember and appreciate for always.
• Set an example of kindness. No matter how much or how little you own – no matter if you are world-famous or just famous to those who love you – the goodness you pour into the world will find a way to keep on giving.
Children and grandchildren who are imparted with consistent examples of what it means to be a good human will pass it on to their own children and grandchildren. When they speak of you, let it be that they always marvel
at the love you shared with the world.
The greatest legacy one can pass onto one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.Billy Graham