The holiday decorations are (mostly) put away. Dinner conversation has changed from what friends got for Christmas and Hanukah to the next sporting event and a new semester of classes. Talk of New Year’s resolutions has faded. We are well on our way into 2013.
When we were considering gifts in December, I thought about some of my more memorable gifts. When we were kids, my brother David bought me a piece of wood with dried flowers on it. It cost him less than $1 at Santa’s Workshop, the seasonal kids’ gift shop at our Catholic elementary school. I loved it. I suppose because David had picked it out himself, just for me. Today, it has lost some flowers through many moves, but it still hangs in my bathroom where I see it every day and think of my brother.
Kids often come up with the best sentimental gifts. When my son was in Kindergarten, he went shopping with my mom and picked out a fish mobile. He said he just had to get it for me to remind me every day of PaPop, my dad. It hangs in our kitchen and each morning when I open the curtains, the mobile chimes and PaPop says hello from his fishing spot in heaven.
One year, my mom and my sister Tammy gave me a personal shopper for Christmas. The woman assessed my closet, went shopping, and came back with jeans, tops, fashionable boots, and handbags. Everything fit and coordinated. What’s not to love about that?
The necklace I usually wear is a gift from my sister Lori. Long after the adults stopped buying gifts for each other, Lori surprised me with a necklace that says, “A sister is someone to laugh, sing, dance, and cry with.” I live far away from both of my sisters. But each day when I put on my necklace, I feel just a little bit closer.
I asked my husband what gift he remembers as special. Without hesitation, he told me about when he was 19 and his dad gave him a hunting gun of his own, a gift of independence.
I wanted to give our kids memorable gifts this year. We opted for experience gifts. When we were in Alaska, the kids had enjoyed meeting Iditarod dogs and taking a quick tourist sled ride. So for Christmas we gave them the gift of two hours with a professional musher and a team of eager sled dogs for a real dogsled ride. The kids took care of getting the dogs ready and each took a turn driving the sled around the frozen bay. Very cool.
Shopping for my husband this year turned out to be a good memory gift, too. Geno needed a new carry-on suitcase. He also has an insatiable sweet tooth, so one of the kids suggested we fill the suitcase with candy. I pushed the cart in Walmart and the kids loaded 57 pounds of brightly-colored sugar and corn syrup. As Malaina pulled five bags off the rack at once and tossed them onto the growing pile, she said, “This is SO fun! I’ve always wanted to do this!”
We selected a clerk who looked like she would enjoy this adventure and loaded the candy onto the checkout belt. A young boy, who was about the same height as the conveyor, looked up with big eyes and said, “That’s a LOT of candy!” Yes, it was.
At home, we stuffed Snickers and Gobstoppers and all the rest into every pocket and compartment in the suitcase and had to repack a few things to get it all to fit. I think this is one gift Geno—and the kids—will remember for a while!
May your new year be filled with memorable gifts –and great stories.
Karen’s life experience is intertwined with her roles as a wife, mom, stepmom, writer, publisher, photographer, traveler, and woman of faith. All these elements tend to make their way into her blog posts.
“Writers have to write. It’s something deep inside us that pushes and pushes until we let it out. It’s part of the air we breathe, this need to make sense of the world around us and to somehow find the right words to express and influence the way we each feel and interact and love and live.”—Writing is Risky Business