I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts.
Maybe it’s all the cookies. 
Or the baklava.
Ann’s Baklava.  Oh my goodness, it’s killing me.

Here’s my thoughts on making and delivering Christmas goodies:  If you want to do it, do it.  If you don’t, don’t.

There was once a group of women who got together to make Christmas treats and gifts for their neighbors, but it turned into a sour session…they spoke of all the effort they went to, to make creative, beautiful and useful presents for all their neighbors and guess what?  Sometimes they got nothing back. How rude, how insensitive, they said, that their gifts and efforts weren’t reciprocated. 

And I thought…oh, please let me not be like that…ever.  

Those women were truly wonderful, caring, creative, talented, and giving…but I felt sorry for them.  Giving gifts wasn’t fun.

Now.  For the record.  I looove gifts.  There are certain calendar events where I better get something.  There have been times when….well, let’s not revisit those dark days.

However.  This Christmas felt a little different to me.  Maybe it’s the tumult of the world.  Maybe it’s the sadness we have all recently experienced, the feeling that life is fragile, short.  Maybe it’s knowing that next Christmas, there will be empty chairs at tables.  Or different people in those chairs.  This whole month felt like a gift I unwrapped and held tight to.  
This is a precious gift made with all she had, and there is nothing better than that.

One of Brynne’s gifts are her cards.  She loves to create, draw, and loop-de-loop notes with words and colors.  I have stacks of love letters.  Made with all she had.

Still-chubby-growing-out-of-toddler fingers make me cookies no one else would want to eat but me 🙂
Learning to write in oh-so-precious new handwriting is a gift I had to capture.

Our 62-year-old Grandma went to New York City to clean up after the hurricane.  She was gone for two weeks, waking up at 4a.m. to load and unload trucks all day long.  And she had whooping cough.  Oh man, we were so proud of our Florence Nightengale and so excited for her to come home to us.  Gifts.

There are gifts that surprise and delight us (Thanks, Syl and Dennis!)

When Paige was sick, Brynne made her a felt flower to keep close to her and surely make her feel better.  Gift.

One of my husband’s gifts is working with these boys on the basketball court.  That boy in the white t-shirt and jeans is now the coach of the other team.  It’s a gift to see him come back and give back to new boys.

Sinful, decadent, yummy gifts

Secret Santa gifts

Healthy, fun-for-me-to-make gifts.
Husband went to serve the people of Spain for two years when he was 19.  He brought back more cooking gifts. On Christmas Eve he made a giant paella for us to enjoy. Our company sure does love his gifts.  (As does his wife!)

Covered with newspaper to cook.  Interesting, no?

Oh, thank you.
Spanish tortilla.

Paige thought she was getting a bedroom fan for her Christmas gift.  But Grandma was just tricking.  Don’t you love tricky-make-you-laugh gifts?

What she really got was a tea set.  The girls made Nelson play.

Nelson plays along.  My girls, my boy…gifts.  

Gregor gave me a camera bag. “It’s what the journalists use,” he told me.  And then he quotes Zeke from Parenthood:  “I see you.  I hear you.”  This is a gift that tells me he believes in me.

Gifts to motivate. “I see you.  I hear you.”  I believe in you, too 🙂
I believe in you, baby!  Just couldn’t help myself.  Yes, that is a broom.  And he wanted it!

Gifts to tell my son, “Yes, you do want to be an eagle scout!”  Right?  Sure, mom.

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is seeing the kids open the gifts they got for each other.  Meet Cherry Blossom.  Yes, we needed another stuffed animal.

Nelson lost a game so he had to play Barbies with the girls.  He crashed their cars after this picture was taken. Were still trying to find the gift in that.

Perhaps the most coveted child gift this year?  The gumball machine.

Technology.  Great gift.  Hi mom and dad, we miss you!

A truly precious gift.  This bracelet is from my dear mother-in-law.  When her parents passed away this past year she asked for all the spare coins and tokens.  She found New Hampshire brass toll tokens that she silver-plated and made into bracelets for her daughters-in-law.

Extra special as they are antique, from loved ones, but you see “the man of the mountain” face?  That part of the mountain collapsed and fell off the New Hampshire Franconia notch mountain a few years ago. I adore this gift.

The gift of words.  So grateful for the gift of books and reading my parents gave to me and continue to give our children.  Both sets of grandparents highly value education.

I hope this “gift of music” inspires my darlings.

While Cope was mad she didn’t get the gumball machine (really!), this teenager only wants the gift of clothing right now.  Remember being that age?

We just received the great gift of snow

Of course, all gifts are better with pink sweatpants on.

Santa gifts.

The gift of the nativity.

But it was hard to focus on this gift when Tenny kept stealing baby Jesus.  We understand, Tenny.  He was a pretty great baby.

“And she pondered all these things in her heart.” Luke 2.  The true Christmas gift.  Brynne wanted to be Mary until I said she could be the donkey.  Yes!

This is Harry.  We had him with us last year.

But he can’t remember our names anymore.

Harry’s wife is Anna, is on the right.  These two women, Anna and Syl are my special friends from church.  They visit me every few months and I love them so much. Anna is 87.  She visits Harry at the veterans home. He used to ask Anna, “When are you taking me home?”  And now he asks, “Who are you?”  Anna brings me gifts often; gifts I cannot say no to.  They are pieces of her life, home, and family.  

We do not have an elf on the shelf.  We have “Ferdy,” the German gnome.  He watches us and reports back to mama.  This gnome was a gift to Anna from her mother.  Anna was born in Germany, in 1927, and one of the first war brides to come to America.  Harry was her everything.  There’s a story there.

I keep finding pieces of their love story, tucked here and there.  Last Christmas he was with Anna.

This Christmas my heart felt full of gifts, for the people I love who will be forever with me, one way or the other.
It doesn’t have to be cookies or sugared deliveries.  Unless you’re making me baklava…

It can be more simple than that.
  “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” -C.S. Lewis
I love the drummer boy, who had nothing to give but his drumming.  And so that is what he gave.

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?

…I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

May you give what you can, when you can.  

And may we all receive the best gifts coming our way, in a new year…

Happy New Year, dear friends!


10 thoughts on “Gifts

  1. annewoodman

    Amy, Sounds like you felt the true meaning of the season. Gorgeous pics, and super-cute homemade gifts. If only everyone could reach this level of contentment… we wouldn’t have to deal with all the crime and evil in the world. I wish you and your family a very happy 2013.

  2. GrannyLanny

    What beautiful thoughts, and beautifully expressed. The gumball machine reminded me of the Christmas that Nate got one (the only thing he wanted from Santa.) He was so thrilled that he took it into the bathtub with him and all the gumballs melted, and turned the water a muddy gray. That was a sad lesson–never put the gumball machine in the tub.

  3. Julia Tomiak

    Very sweet, Amy, and a potent reminder of what’s important. It underscores your other post- yes, I will stop and look at my children when they speak to me. Thanks


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