Last year, I was struggling. I was searching for gifts for my mother who lives in an assisted living facility as well my niece and nephews. I was trying to get ready for Christmas at an abnormally fast pace.

Compounded with work and my volunteer work for various charities, as well as organizing the newspaper’s holiday party and its craft and vendor show featuring more than 300 vendors – I was worn to a frazzle.

It was the first Sunday of Advent and I was having coffee and a cinnamon roll with my good friend, Sister Donna Donovan, after church. I told her that I wished all the hustle and bustle of Christmas was done. I was tired and could care less about Christmas and the holiday season. To no avail, she did her best to cheer me up.

The following day when I was busy editing copy, Sister Donna marched in to my office see me. “Here, I thought you might like this,” she said pulling an old yellowed newspaper clipping from her purse. She smiled, turned around and left my office.

I didn’t have time to read the clipping she tossed on my desk until after supper that night. As I scanned the article, it offered some unique, meaningful gift suggestions which had no financial value, yet were priceless.

As I thought about these suggestions, I realized we all could give or use one of these items this holiday season. So ... here’s an abbreviated version of that priceless newspaper clipping Sister Donna bestowed upon me during last year’s Christmas season. I hope you can use it during this year’s holiday season or share the suggestions with a friend in need.

The Gift of Listening: Psychologists tell us that one of the greatest things we can do for one another is to listen to him or her. Why not give this valuable gift to those people on your list who live alone and have no one else to talk to? This means you must really listen. No interrupting, no day dreaming, no walking away, no planning your response. Just listen.

The Gift of Signs of Affection: Take time to give your loved ones signs of affection. Be generous with your hugs, your kisses, your gentle squeezings of the hand, your pats on the back. Let these tiny actions demonstrate the great love you have inside.

The Gift of Note: Write notes to your loved ones. They can be as simple as “I love you” or as creative as a sonnet. Put your notes where they will surprise those special people: in his lunch, in her purse, among his socks, in her pantry. Though notes may be a surprise, the message will not.

The Gift of Laughter: Everyone loves to laugh. Give those you love this gift. Just cut out a cartoon, clip a joke, copy a riddle, save a clever article. Your gift will say, “I love to laugh with you.”

The Gift of Game: Most people have at least one game they like to play, whether it be tennis or golf, poker, chess, checkers or even Twister. Offer to play your loved one’s game favorite game with him or her. Even if you lose, you’ll be a winner, because together you will have shared an experience.

The Gift of Doing a Favor: Do favors for those special people on your list. Help with the dishes, type up that letter, clean out the basement, clean up the yard for your parents, grandparents or an elderly neighbor, or run to the store. This gift is made more valuable when it anticipates a request rather than when it responds to one.

The Gift of a Cheerful Disposition: Try to be cheerful around those you love. That means no complaining, no feeling sorry for yourself, no nasty comments, no screaming, no pessimistic predictions. Your gift of cheerfulness will be a precious gift for everyone - including yourself.

The Gift of Being Left Alone: There are times in our lives when we want nothing better than to be left alone. Become more sensitive to theses times in others’ lives. Then respond generously by giving them the gift of solitude, the privacy of “do not disturb,” of being left alone.

The Gift of Compliment: Pay your loves ones compliments. A simple “You look good in blue” or “I like you hair that way” or “Good supper, mom” can be of inestimable value to people who may feel they are being taken for granted.

The Gift of Prayer: Let’s not forget one of the most immaterial yet valuable gifts we can give - the gift of prayer. Pray for all those people on your shopping list and let them know that you pray for them. Praying for someone is another way of saying “You are special to me that I often talk to God about you.”