Christmas Gifts

With the holidays fast approaching, people are trying to find the perfect gifts to give.  Some want to give a sentimental gift, others want to show their humorous side.  For many people this will be a chance to show how they feel about someone, and for others the gift they give will stylishly fulfill an obligation.  In any case, everyone wants to come up with a gift that will convey just the message they want to send.

Sometimes the memory of a perfect gift outlasts the given item.  The thoughtfulness or creativity that was woven into it inspires a happy feeling for years to come.  I recently asked a few women around the Chippewa Valley if they had any such gift memories to share.  Some had ones that warm the heart, and others had funny memories.  Here’s what they said:

Jan – One year when my sister didn’t have much money, I came downstairs Christmas morning, and her sewing machine cabinet was there by the tree. She wanted to give it to me for my gift, as she knew I loved to sew and didn’t have one. I protested, saying it was too much, but she insisted, a little teary-eyed. That was pretty cool.

Barbara – I grew up in a family where money was tight, and my mother made my clothes.  One year I begged for a robe I’d seen in the Sears catalog – it was beautiful. To my delight it was under the tree on Christmas morning, my first store-bought item, and I wore it until it was threadbare.  After my mother died many years later I was going through her things and found the pattern and some material from that robe.  She had secretly sewn it herself – complete with a borrowed Sears tag – so that I would have my dream come true.

Amanda – When I was a senior in high school, my boyfriend of 18 months worked with – and probably begged – my mom to allow him to get me a kitten for a gift.  She was a sweet little orange kitty who lasted quite a bit longer in my life than my boyfriend.  He went on to date my best friend four months later, and now she’s his wife.

Ann – My sweetest Christmas gifts came from my husband.  Three weeks after we met in October 1991, he went to Texas for work and was already thinking of being with me at Christmas.  My gifts came from that trip – a stuffed armadillo and a Texas longhorn sweatshirt.  And yes, I still have them.

Glenda – One of the best Christmas gifts I ever received arrived under the tree the year my daughter was 11. It was in a huge box, and I couldn’t imagine what a child her age could afford with her small weekly allowance. On Christmas morning she could hardly wait until I opened the big package and then several inside it, each one smaller than the last, each individually wrapped. At last I came to a small ring box, and inside was a gold ring set with a tiny ruby — my birthstone. She had spotted it in the jewelry store window and saved every penny she had to buy it for me. The little girl is now 40, and the ring remains one of my most treasured possessions.

Pat –  My Aunt Pepper was known for giving meaningful gifts, but one year she shook things up.  She gave me a crazy brown and white purse made of fake fur.  Its strap was a chain.  I was grateful for the gift that had been chosen and given with love, but I wasn’t about to take it out of its hiding spot in the back of my closet.  A year later, I found it again and realized that my hip aunt had been incredibly fashion-forward and given me something that was indeed very cool.  It became my favorite purse.

No matter what the gift or who the giver, there are thoughtful and funny gifts that pepper our memories.  Maybe it’s a piece of special jewelry or a traditional gift that passes between family members. It could be a child’s hand-made treasure or a gift certificate for romantic dance lessons meant to rekindle a flame.  In any case, remembering these gifts recalls the affection we shared and inspires us to keep the tradition alive.

My own memory involved a gift that didn’t cost much but is worth its weight in gold.  My brother works in Los Angeles and knows that my favorite Christmas movie is “It’s A Wonderful Life.”  Several years ago, a book came through his publicity office about the making of the movie.  He called Jimmy Stewart’s publicist and thoughtfully arranged to have it autographed to me.  In the movie, the actor’s tender character ultimately realizes how incredibly important each of our tightly interconnected lives is – a lesson worth revisiting at least once each year.  In my book he wrote:  “To Lesley – I send you all my best wishes and have a merry Christmas,  James Stewart.”  I wish the same for everyone.  Happy Holidays.


Christmas Cupid Takes Aim

You’ve made your list and checked it twice. Aunt Joan is getting slippers, and your brother is getting golf gloves. But the spot next to your sweetheart’s name remains blank. The pressure to find the perfect gift can be overwhelming, but if you tap into your sense of romance and ingenuity, you might find that you have just the thing to elicit a delighted kiss from your sweetie on Christmas morning. Here are some ideas that will help get your creative juices flowing.

Customize Your Affection – Anita Thompson <> , who creates kiln-fired glass jewelry, suggests custom baubles for a tender gift idea.

“If you don’t know her favorite color,” directs Thompson, “choose jewelry that complements the color of her eyes.”

Paintings, pottery or other artisan designs can also be created with your partner’s taste in mind.

Fulfill a Dream – How many times has he said that “someday” he’s going to own a hot Corvette convertible? Make him a king for a weekend and arrange to rent his dream car. Find a miniature model or ornament of it to wrap and tuck under the tree. When he opens it, explain that you plan to zoom away for a weekend of his choice in the wheels he’s always wanted. Avis and Hertz both offer Corvettes in limited cities, but some local, non-chain agencies provide this car, too.  If a fancy sports car isn’t possible in your town, a limo stocked with a bottle of bubbly for a night on the town with you may be just the thing to make him smile.

Enhance Knowledge – Expand your partner’s mind by giving the gift of education. Contact a Spanish tutor and purchase five lessons. Wrap the gift certificate with a beginning Spanish book and a coupon to a local Mexican restaurant. Or plan to learn together. Contact your local dance studio for a beginner’s package. In no time, your one moment of romance will blossom into many opportunities to hold each other close and relive the intimacy of the holidays.

Geocasche Your Love – Give your sweetheart a treasure hunt in the form of a pocket GPS. Visit different points around town and program them into the unit. Purchase small gift cards at each place and tuck them into numbered envelopes that correspond with the numbered points in the GPS. Wrap them all together to slip under the tree.  When your holiday honey successfully tracks down a point, he or she can open an envelope and be treated to another surprise.

Craft Some Coupons – Pick up a package of colorful index cards at your local office supply store and get creative. Draw a picture of the fridge for a free kitchen cleaning, a picnic basket for a free “I’ll cook,” or a pair of feet to suggest a foot rub. Cut tabs across the bottom for six free “I’m sorrys” to really win your love over. Whatever your Christmas Cupid likes, make it into a coupon.

Take Flight – Sweep your love off her feet in an airplane or a hot air balloon.

“Flight has many appeals: freedom, nostalgia, romance, scenery, science,” explains John H. Campbell, Chief Glider Pilot at Mile High Gliding in Boulder, Colo., <>. “Our glider flying provides silence, more viewing area than that available in a typical small airplane and is available to the public with no prior experience, training or physical prowess.”

Airports around the country are home to small companies that will happily participate in your Kris Kringle creativity by offering a flight of fancy for about $200. Look in your local phone book under “aircraft charter, rental or leasing” to find an airplane ride, or search under “balloons – hot air” to silently lift off under a brightly colored orb.

Be Insightful – Show your Mr. or Mrs. Claus that you’ve been listening to those little desires all year. Notice that he’s wanted a new tool belt and give him one filled with the little tools he can’t ever find at his fingertips. Remember that she wished for a deviled-egg plate, water ski gloves or a massage at the local spa.  Small things that are only mentioned one time in passing can seem very significant when wrapped and tucked under the tree. They show that you listened, cared and tried to find a sweet way to please.

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10-12 years.” — Robert Parker 91-93