The season of gift giving is upon us! Long before the pumpkins are put away and the turkey cooled, ads in the daily news, Internet and TV flash 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, 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 ducks, cookie mix, wooden planter boxes, stained glass and bird houses out of hollow logs appeared. Creativeness 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 bird houses. It has not only stood the test of time, but also reminds me of a great tradition of handmade gift giving.
This Christmas, as you consider the gifts you’ll give, be creative. Give of your time and talents. Your time is a valuable commodity 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 talents are those qualities that seem quite ordinary to you, but take on a special significance to others. 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 for someone!
And, if 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 the Rush County Schools Legacy Fund to United Way to the Rush Memorial Hospital Foundation, know that your gift will affect the life of the recipient(s). If we could follow the route of just one gift, we might find ourselves in a classroom at RCHS taking a course that paves the way with college credit hours. Or we might be at Milroy Elementary School in the form of a new poster making machine. Whatever the intended purpose of your gift, know that you are making a difference with your generosity.