Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Wonder of Gifts

Today my My guest today is journalist and author, Maryann Miller. In addition to her books and articles, she has also written several screenplays and stage plays and is the Theatre Director at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts. Welcome, Maryann.

I enjoyed Terry's series of gifts during Hanukah, so I thought I would share something else about holiday gifts. Hope you enjoy….

One year, I was able to take one thing off my To-Do list of holiday preparations. It was the year that necessity put me in the position of making a lot of our gifts. At first I was disappointed that our checkbook couldn't be as generous as our hearts, but as I decided what to make for each person and started working on the projects, I got a new perspective. The time I spent on each gift made me feel closer to the person I was making it for. It was like time spent with them, thinking of all the things that make them special to me, and I realized the extra benefit of a handmade gift. A benefit I didn't always appreciate in quite the same way.

After my husband and I moved to Texas, we rarely made it back to Michigan for holidays, and my mother always sent handmade gifts for Christmas. Necessity has ruled her entire life, and we became accustomed to not expecting gifts of any great monetary value. Even so, the arrival of her annual holiday box always sparked an eagerness in me that I never fully understood. The gifts were either hand-made or just a small trinket picked up in a dime store, and sometimes there were even gifts for ‘we-don’t-know-who’.

Sometimes we didn’t even know what the gift was or what it was for; usually something she knitted or crocheted that could be a small afghan or a large lap blanket, or perhaps even a rug.

When the kids were young, they never understood my excitement over mother’s box, either, but I couldn’t fault them for that. It's easy for a simple gift to be diminished when stacked up next to one larger and more expensive, and like the kids, I often saw my mother's efforts as a mere gesture.

But the year that necessity forced me to make gifts, was the year that I finally fully understood what a gift really is, whether hand¬made or purchased.

A gift is not just a thing. It's a connec¬tion between the person giv¬ing and the person receiving that says something special about the relationship between the two. And a gift should never be rushed. The longer you think about it, plan it, and work on it, the stronger the connection.

That's the special, intangible ingredient my mother wrapped up and sent to us for all those years.

Maryann's books include a number of books available for e-readers, as well as Open Season, a new hard cover release from Five Star. For more about Maryann and her writing, visit her website, http://www.maryannwrites.com


Maryannwrites said...

Thanks for hosting me today, Terry. I appreciate the opportunity to share my essay.

Terry Odell said...

Maryann--the pleasure is mine. Love your post.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I like this post so much, Maryann. It's a great reminder of the years I sent homemade cookies to everyone in my family because I couldn't afford to buy presents for anyone but my own kids (and those weren't very expensive ones, either). Even today, when my brother talks about making homemade fudge, I keep hoping he'll send some to me. Fudge beats a gift card anytime.

Thanks for hosting Maryann here today, Terry.

Maryannwrites said...

Patricia, if you get your brother to send fudge, have him send some my way, too.

Speaking of fudge. I read a recipe the other day for making fudge that had one box of brownie mix and one 15oz can of pumpkin - that's all. Mix the pumpkin and brownie mix and bake according to directions. I plan to try that this week.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

You've made such a good point, Maryann--it really is all about the connections, isn't it? So easy to forget that when there are 24/7 commercials on TV right now. Thanks so much for sharing your post.

Maryannwrites said...

Thanks for stopping by Elizabeth. I've been trying to ignore the ads. I've purchased some gifts from local artists and writers and I think those gifts will be more appreciated than the latest gadget being pushed on the airways.

Margaret Duarte said...

For years I made homemade items for family and friends, so I understand exactly what you're saying. Now that I've taken up writing, there's no time for homemade gifts. I pray that someday after I get published, I can finally hand out free books (with a personal message written inside) to everyone. I'd say that counts as homemade.

Mason Canyon said...

I love this post. It's a great reminder that gift giving shouldn't be about how big or expensive the gift is, but come from the heart. Thanks for sharing your story Maryann.

Terry, thanks for hosting Maryann.

Thoughts in Progress

Shannon said...

Aww, that is so sweet!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

I don't always have the time to make presents for everyone, but I do always truly appreciate when someone takes the time and puts forth the effort to make me one.

One lesson I taught my children early on about gifts is that whether they are homemade or not, no one is under any obligation to give you a present and if they felt motivated to give you anything at all the only appropriate response was a sincere "thank you", like the present or not!