Remember that bright Christmas morning filled with hope and excitement as you headed toward the glittering tree?
Yes, the bicycle was there! But, nestled in amongst the gifts, was one of the worst presents you could ever imagine anyone taking the time to wrap (and it didn't come from Santa). You fill in the appropriate disappointment blank, we all have our personal favorites. Mine was the wrong doll. It wasn't the one I wanted at all.
It's at about this moment, a parent sees the dejection our young faces haven't yet learned to mask, and the famous reprimand we will recall for the rest of our lives is recited in a scolding tone: "It's the thought that counts."
Fair enough. Fair enough, if there were thought and kindness, not expediency behind the gesture.
And that brings us to the first of the two part series on gifts that cost absolutely nothing, monetarily speaking. I asked some of my favorite blogging friends to tell us what they would give under these circumstances. Once again, they have proved what extraordinary women they are. Click on each of their names and you will be transported onto their blogs and into their worlds filled with the (free!) gifts they offer every day.
Thank you so very, very much. Your cadeaux are original, loving, and ever-so generous.
In their own words. . .
I have several ideas:
1.) I would give him a rescue animal, creating yet more love, and sharing the warmth and security of a happy home.
2.) I'd volunteer for a good cause; the gift to my beloved is that, when I'm contributing to others' well-being, I'm a more contented person, and therefore, easier to live with.
3.) I would, over one of his favourite dishes, make a toast that describes my appreciation for him -- not what he has done for *me*, but for the essence of his being.
1.) If you have a skill you know you are good at, offer that to your recipient, but write out a "voucher" beautifully and package it with tissue, ribbons, etc. and then place it in a little carrier bag.
2.) Offer to cook a complete meal and then clear away the debris and wash up and arrange the kitchen afterwards.
3.) If you are good at manicures or pedicures, a voucher promising one or the other or both would be a lovely gift. Or, perhaps offer a relaxing shoulder and neck massage.
Finally, a little story about a gift I was given one Christmas which still makes me teary when I think about it. I was living in London -- newly married (first marriage, so it was over 22 years ago now!!). My in-laws had come for Christmas day and also my sister and brother. Sadly, my parents who I had not seen for six months could not make it -- they were living abroad -- my father was in the Forces and could not get leave.
There we were, the small party undoing Christmas packages and I was rushing in and out of the kitchen checking on the traditional Christmas lunch when suddenly there was a loud knock on the front door. I remember saying to my brother, "Goodness, who on earth is at the door on Christmas day? Can you please go and see?" He shouted to me, "No, you go!"
Well, I have to admit, I was a little annoyed as I was busy, but I went to the door and upon opening it got the surprise of my life. Standing there smiling broadly were my parents!
"We hope you've cooked enough for lunch -- can we join you?"
It was the best Christmas gift ever. (My brother and sister were in on the surprise.)
So, sometimes just being somewhere with someone is the best gift of all time.
(Of course, the painting above is by Norman Rockwell.)
I love scent, and on my travels I have collected, and been gifted with boxes of lovely scented soaps. Perhaps influenced by the tradition of artistic wrappings in some of the countries I have visited, I began to wrap soap for gifts.
1.) One such design was a Chinese Fortune Soap which I wrapped in electric lime green tissue and purple ribbon -- a color palette straight out of old Shanghai. Then the wrapped soap was decorated with a small label of a Chines woman, and hidden inside a small sliver of colored paper with a fortune prediction (collected from the Internet).
2.) Then, there was a romantic French Love Token Soap wrap. A rose scented soap wrapped in Chinese silk paper, tied with a delicate, thin silk ribbon, embellished with a reproduction of an 18th century print of Cupid from my collection. Tucked inside, a love sentiment in French (also collected from the Internet).
3.) I have made a Vintage Christmas Soap wrapped with small sheets cut from some of my retro '40s and '50s Christmas gift paper, tied with candy cane striped string and topped with a tiny jingle bell.
Here are three of my ideas for gifts that say, "I love you. I appreciate you. I thought of you."
1.) The gift of nature: A bouquet of feathers collected at the beach, sea glass, a beautiful seashell, pressed leaves in a frame, smooth stones to play with while talking around a table, flowers from the garden.
2.) The gift of you: Start a blog. Chronicle daily events, share your recipes, thoughts on world events, etc. You will be amazed at how many of your friends and family will find it, read it, and appreciate it, even if they never comment or let you know. Really.
3.) The gift of heritage: Perhaps you have something that someone else has admired -- a tea cup, a favorite book, a piece of jewelry, or something they collect (like my collection of old Victoria magazines). Wrap it up and give it to someone who will appreciate it not only for its own attributes, but also for having once belonged to you.