Editor’s note: Last year, after a reader told us how he assembled a personalized photo calendar for his in-laws for Christmas, we asked Anglican Journal readers to share with us their ideas for simple Christmas gifts. We now share them with you, before the commercial season is upon us.
Last year, we announced that we would prefer if our family and friends would ‘regift’ for us, and especially for our children, or give gifts that they themselves have made (a tin of cookies, a pair of socks, or even a handkerchief). We encourage regifting – there are so many things we have been given over the years that do not get used, or which are read once and forgotten. Many of these things we give to charity, and some of them we regift. We also encourage older family members to give things that they love, and that they would like to see stay in the family. I have received my great-grandmother’s cookbook (which contains her recipe for bread, the only one I have ever used that works every time), a much-adored handmade sweater, and a set of teacups that were given to my grandmother for her bridal shower. My son now plays ball with his great-great-grandfather’s mitt, and I serve food on my great-grandmother’s dishes.
Regifting not only reuses materials, it promotes a sense of history, of family, of connectedness, and it gets you back to the true sense of giving – that you give of yourself, not of big box retail chains.
Vouchers and stamps
I am a senior and my ideas are for seniors. When my family asks for my Christmas list, at the top of my list is a donation in my name to the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF). If not the PWRDF, then a donation to your favourite charity. Be sure to give them the address. I also like to get postage stamps as I write many letters.
Vouchers can be bought for many things such as telephone calls, gas for the car, meals out. If you like to give hands-on gifts, try garden supplies for the gardener, golf balls for the golfer, a book or subscription for the reader. A great gift I received was a good magnifying glass for my failing eyes.
The idea is to think of the wants of the recipient.
A ‘same-gift’ Christmas
Why not try a “same gift” Christmas? That is, giving everyone on your list the same thing. Giving every family a Scrabble game on a turntable, for example, or a nice felt tip pen, a box of dried cherries, a pair of wool socks, a new book or a DVD. It is a way of saying that everyone is equally special, equally included. And it can take away a lot of stress.
When our children were working college students, they requested that we not exchange gifts. I resisted, but finally realized that it was important to them. They did not have much money or time, and they needed to feel independent enough to reciprocate in gift exchanges. Previously, they had been very generous gift-givers with hard-earned money. Finally, I gave in.
We had a great Christmas. Because we were not defining Christmas by the gift-giving session, we consciously spent the whole day together. Because this was their idea, the young adults focused on making the time special. We sang, played games, shared readings, and watched a movie together. The young adults, male and female, also participated by contributing food to the Christmas dinner. Again, I had to let go and allow this. Since then, we have skipped gift-giving for several Christmases.
A year of Wednesdays
I once gave a Christmas gift to my mother, which I believe afforded me as much pleasure as it did her. I gave her a year’s worth of Wednesday afternoons. These were not to be spent grocery shopping or paying bills, but for pleasure. We would go to visit her elderly friends or to an exhibit at a local museum or art gallery, perhaps a quilt show or just for a drive in the country followed by tea somewhere. When the weather was bad or she did not feel up to it, I would spend the afternoon just chatting with her in her home or doing some simple chore. She once said that this was the best Christmas gift she ever received. I know I certainly enjoyed it and can look back on happy memories of those afternoons spent with her.
Dora A. Hocken
Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Donations to charity
This year for the first time I followed in the footsteps of a friend and sent gifts to World Vision in the names of my children and other family members. The reaction was enthusiastic; the most delighted reply was from my shop-a-holic teenage granddaughter. As she would say, go figure. My only exceptions were the magazines and books I send the youngest ones. But for me and others like me please encourage the children, especially the younger ones, to still send me their handcrafted cards, baked play-dough angels, clay pots and their pictures.