Gift giving can come with a lot of pressure. Especially this time of year, we are inundated with gift guides, commercials and advertisements about “the perfect present”, feeling as though we need to seemingly read our loved ones minds in order for them to have any chance at all of having a happy holiday.
It’s a lot to take on.
However, when I look back on my life so far, all of the greatest gifts I’ve received have not been particularly expensive. I hadn’t made a list. The best gifts I’ve ever been given simply cannot be found in a gift guide.
The Best Gifts I’ve Been Given
- A rock. Seriously! My son brought a rock back from a special trip to Italy and gave it to me as a memory. I didn’t know that he’d smuggled it home in his suitcase and later had it personalized. Today, that rock sits on my desk, and it brings me joy every time I catch a glimpse of this simple object that reminds me of a grander idea - the love of my family. This rock brings back warm memories of our hike in Cinque Terre, the way we were able to bond throughout that uninterrupted time on the trail. My son knew that those family trips were precious even then, but could not have imagined how much more precious they would become, as all the kids are adults now.
- A handmade wind chime. For our 25th anniversary, my husband created a homemade wind chime, thinking carefully about what sound would ring out when the chimes came together in the breeze. That wind chime hangs outside of a window in our home, and, when the wind blows, it reminds me of our life together - the wild ride we’ve taken so far and the beautiful journey ahead.
- Something thoughtful, a memory recalled. Whenever I receive a gift that was given after a loved one had noticed an offhand “Oh, I would really love that”, I feel incredibly grateful. It shows that they care, that they heard me even when I was making a casual comment, they remembered my words, and thought it would be enjoyable to surprise me. There are too many of these to recall, but often a special piece of jewelry from my husband is a part of the package. This is also the way that I personally love to give gifts.
- Time. When my kids or husband make special time for memories, it feels better than any gift that could be wrapped up. Today, it’s more difficult, which makes whatever time we do get together all the more special. This year, my kids spent a day organizing my husband’s workshop area. In another year, concerts, shows, special hikes - these are the gifts that last the most in my memory. I have one specific memory of my daughter and I painting her old room to be our empty nest guest bedroom. I’ll never forget that day when we got caught up in the nostalgia and talked about the funny, sad, and happy times. Another example: each year my eldest helps me plant my veggie garden, and we bond over the hard work, reminiscing on years past and planning for the future.
In a year when the holidays won’t be the same, when many are struggling financially, I think about the pressure that we put on ourselves to give the “perfect gift”. In reality, the gifts that mean the most often can’t be found in a gift guide. When you’re struggling for a gift, look inside instead. See if there’s something you can make, an experience that you could plan, or a memory that you can share. I promise that your loved one will be thrilled with a gift from the heart.