Gifts do not have to be traditional items, packaged or wrapped, tied up with ribbon and bows. They may be donations given in a person’s name, like a bench in a park or on one of the Town’s green spaces, or give a cash voucher to your local food bank or shelter. Buy an acre of the rainforest or save a whale (our North Atlantic right whales are in danger). Adopt a mile of highway and then organize a party to clean up the litter. You can do this in your town, too, block by block (kids like this activity.) Check with your town office or service group. Volunteering with a local service group is also an activity that you can share with a person, that can be a two-fold gift. The service group receives your help, and the gift receiver gets a sense of wellness that accompanies such a kind act. Breakfasts and other meals that service groups provide can always use extra hands on deck.
What about re-gifting things? Some people do not like this process, but others do. Know your gift receiver and consider this. After all that is basically what we do when we go to second hand stores, isn’t it? And with re-gifting, money does not have to change hands. Listen to people. Did you hear that a friend needs a winter coat but can not afford one? And do you have a lovely coat in your closet that you do not need and do not wear? Why not gift that wonderful coat to your friend? Also do you have some family heirlooms or keepsakes that would be appreciated by another family member? Offer something to them and give them a written or verbal account of the item and who it belonged to. A story about the person and item will make the gift even more memorable and precious.
As I have said before, vouchers are a great gift. What about paying a part or the whole of a sport fee: curling, golf, gym time, or anything that delights your friend. I often get these things from my family at special times. In a nice card, they are a lovely gift to open. Gift certificates for a class or activity like painting, rug hooking or pottery—anything that interests a person is a thoughtful and fun gift.
Put some consideration into your gift choices. Respect the person’s abilities or disabilities. Maybe hand ball or squash lessons are not appropriate for someone with arthritis or missing a digit. But if your friend or family member loves to dance and listen to music, maybe some dance lessons would be fun. All types of dance groups are around, including contra, Scottish, Irish, and couples lessons. Check it out and find out what is near you.
How does your friend heat their home? How about paying for a cord of wood, or any part thereof, or helping with an oil delivery or electric bill. These are wonderful gestures and so appreciated. Again these things do cost money. If cash is tight, volunteer at an activity that your friend enjoys, like bingo or a card party. There are also chess and board game nights at most libraries.
Remember how ‘gift’ can be spelled:
G: genial or genuine
I: intriguing or involving
F: forever or festive
T: time or tactful
Please stay safe this blessed holiday season.