Gracious giving requires no special talent, nor large amounts of money.  It is compounded of the heart and head acting together to achieve the perfect means of expressing our feelings. For, as Emerson explains, "The only gift is a portion of thyself."

A little girl gave her mother several small boxes tied with bright ribbons.  Inside each were slips of paper on which the child had printed messages such as, "Good for two flower-bed weedings," "Good for two floor-scrubbings."  She had never read Emerson, but unconsciously she put a large part of her small self into her gift.

A young bride received a wedding present from an older woman.  With it went a note, "Do not open until you and your husband have your first tiff."

When there finally came a day of misunderstanding the bride remembered the package.  In it she found a card box filled with her friend's favorite recipes--and a note, "You will catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar."  It was a wise woman indeed who gave of her experience with her gift.

Family gifts should be the most satisfying because we know each member's wish and whim.  Yet how often we make the stereotyped offerings--ties, candy, or household utensils.  One man I know is planning an unusual present for his wife.  When I saw him coming out of a dancing studio, he explained:  "I got tired of hearing my wife complain about my dancing.  It's going to be a lasting birthday present for her--my dancing well."

An elderly lady on an Iowa farm wept with delight when her son in New York had a telephone installed in her house and followed it up with a weekly long-distance call.

All gifts that contain a portion of self signify that someone has been really thinking of us.  One of the most useful and thoughtful travel presents a girl ever received was currency of the country to which she was going.  A friend bought her some pesos from a bank so that she would have the correct money for tips and taxi fare when she first arrived in Mexico.

Chances for heroic giving are rare, yet every day there are opportunities to give a part of yourself to someone who needs it.  It may be no more than a kind word or a letter written at the right time.  The important thing about any gift is the amount of yourself you put into it.