This week’s holiday topic: Choosing gifts for others, and a favorite gift that I’ve given.
Growing up in a small family, Christmases were generally quiet. Most of our relatives overseas don’t really celebrate the holiday, so there weren’t many gifts to wrap other than those we bought for each other and people who were important to us. I used to tease my hubby that the reason I was so eager to marry him was he came with a ready-made family (he had two boys and a girl, along with a brother, three nieces, parents, and two aunts), so that I could have more people to celebrate with! For many years, I reveled in the Christmas season. Even though I was busy teaching, performing and directing, I always looked forward to shopping and wrapping gifts for my new relatives. In recent years, however, it seems that my older grandchildren prefer to receive cash or gift cards so that they can choose the things they want. And that’s okay, because I know I’m giving them something they’ll use.
When I was old enough to earn my own money, one of my favorite things to spend it on was gifts. At first I felt frustrated because my limited income meant I couldn’t give things that amounted to much. But then I learned that inexpensive fabric and yarn could be transformed into useful gifts, and my love for crafting was born. I started sewing and crocheting a lot of Christmas and birthday gifts. One year I made a white shawl for my mom to wear when she dressed up because she was always cold. Ironically, I used it before she did – when I wore it to my prom!
I think most of us, when choosing gifts, consider the receiver’s needs and wants. But sometimes that’s difficult. Every Christmas, hubby and I would agonize for weeks over what we could possibly get for our parents, because both couples were financially able to simply get whatever they needed. I finally got some inspiration when I stopped at my parents’ home and found my dad outside snow-blowing his driveway. At the time, he was nearly 70, and the sight of him working that hard in sub-zero weather did not make me happy. After helping him finish up, I went home told my husband how frustrated I was and called several snowplow services until we found one that was licensed to work in their suburb. We made arrangements for their drive to be cleared out for the rest of the winter. They were thrilled with the gift – and a little befuddled. It had never occurred to them to spend good money to have other people do what they felt they were perfectly capable of doing. But after going through a particularly cold winter without having to worry about shoveling, they happily continued the service.
I think that qualifies as my favorite gift given: giving Mom and Dad permission to let other people do things for them.