The season of gift giving is upon us. Long before the pumpkins were put away and the turkey cooled, ads in the daily news, internet and TV flashed before us the perfect toy or cologne for gift giving. I’ve often wondered if all the visual prompts for gift giving were stripped away and we gave something we already have – what would it be?
I, like you, have experienced the joy of gift giving with family and friends over the years. However, the years that stand out and are long remembered are the years where we ignored commercialism and gave something from the heart.
When my brothers and I were all newlyweds, our budgets were extremely tight. Some of us were still finishing college, starting families, switching to new teaching jobs and trying to purchase homes. The thought of extravagant gift giving was very much out of the question. Instead, we decided that our gift giving would be something we already owned. One gift in particular comes to mind. It was an old mast ship. You know the kind I’m talking about, often referred to as a “dusting nightmare.” The Ship however, was passed around for several years and each year the current owner added something new to its décor. One year it was fitted with new sails. Then there was the Astro Turf deck! New life boats appeared and sailors were added. This gift had turned into an annual event to see who would get it and what kind of improvements had taken place.
Humor goes a long way during the holidays too and such would be the case with another version of giving something you already owned. This user friendly gift item was a padded toilet seat. Oh no, this wasn’t just any toilet seat – it was a pink, paisley, padded toilet seat! It was a sight to behold and was guaranteed to clash with even the most liberal decorating ideas. I’m not sure what happened to that prized possession and am hoping if family members are reading this, it isn’t somehow resurrected!
When the “something you already own” gift giving had run its course, we turned to making by hand whatever we gave. Most of my family is blessed with a creative streak thanks to parents who took the time to teach us how to sew and work with wood. Those years stuffed calico ducks, cookie mix, wooden planter boxes, stained glass and bird houses (out of hollow logs) appeared. Creative-ness was the word! It took on a life form that will long be remembered. To this day I still have one of those hollow log birdhouses. It has not only stood the test of time, but also reminds me of a great tradition of handmade gift giving and especially of the person who made the gift.
This Christmas as you consider the gifts you’ll give, be creative. Give generously of your time and talents. Your time is a valuable commodity that is often overlooked. However your time is needed by people with causes great and small. Your time is especially valuable to someone who is experiencing their first holiday after the loss of a loved one. Your time is valuable to that first grader who needs someone to read with them. Or, what about babysitting for that young couple with a new baby who have written off “date night” as a luxury?
Your talents, those qualities that seem quite ordinary to you, take on a special significance for others too. Perhaps you have a talent for cooking, sewing, painting or gardening that can be shared as a holiday gift. How cool would it be if you gave a “gift certificate” indicating you’d be willing to come and plant bulbs or a garden for someone! Equally cool would be a “gift certificate” stating you’ll help paint gutters in the spring.
And, if at all possible share some of your financial abundance. These gifts are the perfect size, don’t have to be wrapped and can extend beyond your four walls to assist someone else. Whatever the cause might be, from your Church . . . to the Rush County School Legacy Fund…to the Rush County Community Foundation …to United Way…to the Hospital Foundation - know that your gift will affect the lives of the recipients.
Best Wishes as you prepare for Christmas and thank you for the many gifts you share.