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My Thing about Gifts

Sometimes a gift is really tasty!

Published in ChicagoNow, December 10, 2014

Gifts are my thing, and for me gifts matter. The best gifts are ones that show you thought about the person, and they are given and received on time. Gift cards are practical but there’s nothing I like better than a surprise that delights the recipient.

Personally, I don’t care if the gifts I receive are homemade or inexpensive. I never return them. And when I give them, the part I love is trying to think of the thing that will make the recipient really happy.

When my kids were growing up, I made a big deal about their birthdays. I left a wrapped present in their room during the night so they would find it as soon as they woke up on their special day. For holidays and occasions, while hints were always helpful, the best gifts had the element of surprise.

Over the years, I have learned that not everyone feels the same way. There are those like my husband who learned the hard way after forgetting my first Mother’s Day (“You’re not my mother,” didn’t cut it!) and from telling me to buy myself something I needed for my birthday. Good thing he learned quickly. His new wife did indeed have a thing about gifts.

Here’s a favorite gift – a handmade card

I know there are those who prefer gift cards so they can get exactly what they want. And there are those who register for so many wedding and baby gifts that it’s clear they do not want anything off the list. Bah humbug, I say. On both the giving and receiving end, the best gifts show that someone cared enough to remember your special day or a holiday with something they thought you would enjoy. The cost or usefulness of the gift is much less important to me.

So, what are some of my favorite gifts to receive?

  • That special note from one of my kids or grandkids that comes with the card. Yes, I save all of them.

  • A photo of someone I love.

  • Anything created by my grandkids.

  • A donation to a charity or cause that matters to me.

  • The gift of time – going somewhere (anywhere) with someone I love.

  • OK, and I also like funky jewelry and clothes!

And I’ll also confess to being horribly sentimental when it comes to gifting others. My favorite gifts to give?

  • Photo books and homemade movies – I’ve done so many of these. The best part is if the recipient grows up or gains weight, these always fit.

  • Taking the person somewhere special – could be a mani/pedi or a movie or out to lunch (a favorite for my girlfriends).

  • Framed photos of folks they love.

  • A mix CD of special music (yes, I’m old) – my grandkids love these and I’ve learned about Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and One Direction. Is that a gift for me, I wonder?

  • OK, I also love to give books, American Girl dolls, Thomas Trains, and anything Disney to my grandkids!

My grandkids’ hands & feet – awesome gift!

I know my loved ones and I have enough “stuff.” I know we are all really busy and it’s hard to find time to shop and mail gifts. I don’t think I’m greedy, but I’ll admit to being needy of knowing that someone thought about me enough to remember my special day. And I’ll confess to believing in the old adage, “It’s better to give than receive.”

Oh, and one more thing. It is also important to give of yourself to others. That can be in talent, treasure, or time. Despite my thing about giving and receiving gifts, this is the best gift you will ever give.


by Laurie Levy
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