I've always liked this time of year although there have certainly been some unhappy times during the years. I enjoy decorating, the foods and yes, even gift giving. I am disturbed by the recent uncharitable trend that seems to be appearing with people doing their darnedess to get out of giving presents.
Oh sure, if times are tough, certainly. No one should ever expect those who are having financial problems to go into debt so others can have presents or treats. What I am talking about is a general lack of wanting to give, to help others. You see it all over blogland - people complaining about the pressures of finding the right present for people "who don't need anything."
Says who? Everyone needs something - maybe you just need to put a little effort into finding out what it is. But don't limit yourself to tangible things, like the latest gadget.
My favorite gifts have run the gamut from an expensive musical instrument to a book to an inherited plate. The musical instrument has led to thousands of hours of enjoyment and a career as a professional player. The book is one I still reread on an annual basis. And the plate cost nothing - it was simply passed on from my mother to me but it's a pretty one and it still makes me marvel whenever I look at it.
Unfortunately, many people seem to equate gift-giving with buying stuff or expensive presents. There's much more to it than that. To me, it simply means putting a little extra effort into a relationship, something to make it more special. Sometimes it does mean buying an engagement ring or something expensive but most of the time, it can simply mean making a special meal or dessert for that person - their favorite cookies, for example - or even a promise they'll have complete control over the remote on certain days (not everyday - we don't want to be ridiculous here). Gifts don't have to cost anything but they do have to be specific to the person - otherwise, there's no point to the whole exercise. The plate from my mother cost her nothing but it was a good choice for me because she knew I loved fine bone china and beautiful things.
Some of the nicest (and cheapest) gifts revolve around food. We all have to eat and most of us have favorites but it's always nice to try something different that could end up being a favorite. Here are some food-related gifts that I have given over the years.
1. Tea - surprise! But seriously, there are thousands of teas out there to try - and very few cost much.
2. Coffee - this can range from a Tim gift card for those who need their daily fix to a single cup coffee maker or a container of K-cups. A pound of coffee beans is also a nice gift.
3. Mugs, teapots, implements - all the essentials for making your favorite brew. A good teapot may cost less than $50 but could last a person for a lifetime.
4. Chocolates - not necessarily a box of the usual but a box customized to their tastes - for example, a box of chocolate covered apricots or strawberries for the fruit lover. Or even a collection of favorite bars.
5. Food baskets customized to that person's tastes.
6. Gift certificates or cards to favorite lunch spots so a person can indulge on that cold, miserable February day when you really need a treat.