It seems that when you have the money you don't have the time, and when you have the time you don't have the money. When you have a disability, chances you have neither. So what can you give this season that will do the most for your friends and family? How about gifts from the heart?
Give a "Certificate of Venting." You know that many people you meet try to somehow establish that they are more disabled than you. Either they have nothing else to offer to express their identity and absolutely must have a pecking order of some kind, or they think those whose disabilities are public want to hear about someone sorrier than themselves. This may be the case with some of the people you know. Give each of them a certain amount of time to express themselves and get over it. Offer them a cup of coffee in your kitchen and an hour of listening. Adapt the beverage and venue to meet both your situations, schedule it or make it spontaneous, but do it.
Give an "I Care About What You Care About." Donate what you can to a cause your friend or family member endorses. The organization can send an acknowledgment or you can prepare a note to give. This is especially effective when you are on opposite sides of the argument.
Spoil the Giftee Rotten. Make a favorite meal, give a manicure, or do mending or laundry for someone who just doesn't have time. You are probably good at something practical that your friend is not, be it ironing, writing letters, or going to the library and picking out good books.
Have an "Us Day." There are plenty of fun things to do for very little cash. Ask the giftee to a book reading, a free lecture at a local college, or a low-priced exhibit. Bring sandwiches, and take time to just sit and talk for a while about the event. This is especially fun when your friend needs time away to talk with a grownup or someone with the same intellectual interests.
Help Him or Her to Escape. As you are able, offer to babysat kids, pets or houses. Even the most dedicated parents, animal owners or householders need a few hours to recharge, even if only to take a nap, enjoy a hot bath, or get some errands done.
Write It Down. Give friends and relatives letters telling them how great they are and how much they mean to you. You may be surprised at how many keep these letters for their entire lifetime.
Create an Applause Machine. Teachers of adults will tell you that many of their students have never received a "thank you" for what they do, let alone applause. Find volunteers to supply a source of applause at your place of worship, school or work and record about a minute of their clapping, whistling and hollering. If you find no other source of supply, check out full bus stops, train stations, or stores (a video of this would be viral). Use a medium to which your friend has access when he or she needs a boost.
Give a Periodic Buddy Call. Promise to call one a month just to exchange compliments and follow through. This requires and both of you have a phone, of course, but you can exchange notes through snail mail if necessary. The point is to let the other person know that you think they are worthy of praise.
Volunteer. As you are able, give time and talent to a worthy cause and dedicate them in the names of the people for whom you care. Even if you are bedridden you can do something. Kind wishes and prayer come to mind immediately, but you may have a hidden talent such as calling others to ask them to volunteer as well.
At the heart of this kind of giving is focusing on the needs of the other person and doing what you can to meet that need. The shiny toy will only last so long. The love you give will go on forever, regardless of what fate hands both you and the recipient of your gift.