Gift of a cloth covered journal

Beginning a new year is like unwrapping a gift, and there have been many gifts unwrapped in the last couple of weeks.

Not all of these were ‘store-bought’. Take this morning for example. After our customary early Saturday morning walk, my friends and I chatted over our breakfast. The observation of this small tradition is a gift in itself. Conversations ranged over a wide variety of topics: Christmas, grandchildren, gender inequity, travel, gardening and lastly, excessive consumption.

We lamented the volume of gifts given over the festive season. We railed against the expectations capitalist society imposes on gift giving and the dire consequences this has on our present generation of children who learn to expect so much and their parents who work so hard to provide for them. With the notion of supply and demand in mind, surely the oversupply of gifts devalues the delight in them? Gifts lose their shine in the wash of an ‘easy come, easy go’ attitude. There’s always more where that lot came from – right?

I am old enough to remember when home made gifts were the norm. As a post war baby whose parents had limited resources when it came to presents,  perhaps surprisingly I  did not go without. There was always a way to make a little girl’s Santa wishes  come true.

Necessity gifted my parents with the resourcefulness and  imaginations to ensure we didn’t go without.

One year there was a shiny two wheeler bicycle under the Christmas tree. It was my favourite colour of blue because my dad had lovingly restored a second-hand bike and customised it especially for me. Our Christmas stockings were brimming with home-made toffees, White Christmas, gingerbread  and other goodies. Hand-crafted dolls, teddies, party dresses, made by my mother and nan, always garnered admiration from my friends in times when store-bought goods were a rare commodity bestowing special status. Yet, I never felt deprived.

Some things don’t change. This Christmas, despite an avalanche of amazing toys – unicorns that move and speak, telescopes through which it’s possible to see the rings of Saturn – ‘home-made’ still had a place at our house. Artwork, baked goodies, fine preserves, cloth covered journals and party dresses were still considered special, imbued with the love of their maker for those to whom they’ve been gifted. Plants struck from cuttings are always a favourite, whether gifted to me – or from me to a special someone. In fact my tiny garden is an especially treasured gift to myself.



On Christmas Eve, I told my ‘grandies’ stories. These are unique gifts no-one else can give them and ones I hope will be remembered after I become just a collection of stories myself.

Princess Bobby writing a book. Asha 2016

A gift from my grand-daughter depicting me in my true guise: a princess with wings writing a book.

In the snuggle of a big bed, an excited child either side of me desperately resisting the impulse to sleep, they begged for yet another adventure story, one in which they are always the heroes. In my stories we are magical beings, we fight dragons, grow mermaid tails, or we fly on pterodactyls across primordial skies, always returning safely by morning.

Life is a gift.

“Being gifted doesn’t mean you’ve been given something. It means, you have something to give.”

What does the word ‘gift/gifted’ conjure up for you?

40 responses to “Gifted

      • I love the way you often begin your posts by talking about the everyday (I want to use the word “mundane”, but that word has lost its original meaning of “of this world” and has come to mean “dull”, so I won’t) and then tease out your thoughts to send us exploring ours.
        Like you, I’m a post-war baby. Most things we had during the year were home-made, so, for us, the small bought items at Xmas were special. We smoothed out and saved the foil wrappings from the chocolate Fathers Christmas. Any coloured gift-wrap was carefully removed and put in a special box so it could be re-used. Again and again. I remember this box now when I the gift-wrap is torn off and thrust into a recycling rubbish bag.
        Your post also reminded me of how much I enjoyed my grandmother’s stories. She loved Westerns, so often she told tales of cowboys, but she also told me a lot about her childhood in late 19thC – early 20thC NZ. I wish I’d known enough to ask her much more about that.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you for the kind words! Funny thing is I always imagined you as being of my children’s generation – not sure why – perhaps because you have a younger form of expression? Distinct from Gib’s voice I mean.
        You took me back years with your story of saving silver foil and re-using wrapping – we did both, and I still do save the wrapping if I can salvage it quickly enough.
        Oh how I wish I had asked more questions of my nana and great grandma who lived with us when I was young. Because of this I write copiously in journals imagining my daughters and grandchildren may be interested in who I was beyond ‘mother and grandmother’.
        I loved the idea that your grandmother told you stories from her imagination – and her life. My nan was born in 1898 and died in 1979. She was probably a contemporary of your nan. I’m fascinated by the time span they experienced – from gas lamps to man on the moon! Thanks for taking the time to comment so extensively.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I could have written more – like you said, it’s a concept a lot could be said about – but my reply was getting overlong.
        On grandparents: My mother (b.1917) used to say she wished she’d asked her grandmothers about their early years, particularly her Irish grandmother who came here on an immigrant ship in the 1860s, but in her day children weren’t on such familiar terms with their grandparents as they are today. I’ve done quite a bit of family research and discovered a great-great-great grandmother who was christened in Manchester in 1810 (during the Napoleonic Wars) and who died in NZ in about 1903. She was in her 60s when she emigrated with some of her children. Amazing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve always planned to research my family more too. Interesting point about the grandchild – grandparent relationship, I hadn’t considered that. I find it hard to get my head around your 3 x great grandmother immigrating at that age when 60 years was considered very old.I know that my great great grandfather came from China as a merchant. I would like to know more about him.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. we have very similar ideas. home made are gifts from the heart. I always give home crafted gifts whenever possible. Sometimes they aren’t well received , especially by those who never make anything themselves but I don’t worry about that. People change and often come to appreciate them long after. you are blessed to have grandchildren to snuggle with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. I am blessed. Home made gifts give more than the artefact don’t you think Brenda? They give time, attention, invention and positive intent. And most often they speak of care for the receiver, if not love. Thanks for visiting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you regarding the gift giving expectations that come with the holidays. I don’t know if it is age or this commericalism that has removed some of the luster. And I don’t remember the last time I received a homemade gift. And it has been years since I sent or received a Christmas card. That is something I am planning on next year. Very nice post. As usual, a pleasure to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have to agree. I think you may possibly have heard this, but my favorite Christmas present ever was a homemade one from my parents when I was a boy. By the way, your grand-daughter’s picture is very sweet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A princess with wings writing a book, now how can anyone possibly top such a lovely gift? Such a good post and it echoes sentiments of others I’ve read around the holidays and it makes me long for the good ole days. When my 3 boys were growing up I tried to keep Christmas gifts to a minimum (it really wasn’t that hard as a single parent) but I wanted them to understand the importance of what the holiday meant without all the shiny distractions. It seems with each generation we tend to go more overboard and I can’t help but wonder what’s happening to humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Its an interesting one to ponder Stephanae. Being a single parent is a challenge, especially when other kids are getting all the stuff on offer. But it was also an opportunity for your boys to learn the value of what is truly important – a good life lesson and character building

      Liked by 1 person

      • There were a few times that I felt bad because I couldn’t give them all the things that their friends got but now that they are grown men they’ve actually said that they appreciate their upbringing. So it seems that they’ve taken that life lesson to heart which makes me feel good because I can’t tell you how many times I doubted and questioned myself and if i was doing the right thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I have been inspired to respond to your great post.
    Memories. I also remember the second hand bike so lovingly restored by my father, it was such a special gift. My thoughts travelled back to all the holidays at my Aunt’s home in Brisbane. My Aunty Joyce was a dressmaker who loved sewing for her niece, I always returned home with such beautiful dresses. My mother was amazing too. Every child who attended my birthday party in my early years received a paper party hat, lolly bag and apron that had been sewn on her machine. I am thinking of the mothers of today…… be fair, life today is very different. The fabric on your journal reminded me of some home made cushion covers a friend recently made for me, such a thoughtful gift. I agree totally, home made gifts are the best.
    In your response to toutparmoi you mentioned your journals. Your girls and grandchildren will be sure to see the women beyond their mother and grandmother. You are giving them the best gift possible.
    Enjoyed the quotes and I think the princess wings are a perfect size.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a lovely response. I enjoyed reading of your experiences – so similar to my own. One thing you mentioned was the home sewn aprons for the party goers. How strange! My mother used to sew children’s aprons to give as birthday gifts. They had organdy frills and little bells sewn on them – almost too gorgeous to wear as aprons but from what I recall it was common to put an apron on over good clothes.
      And your cushion covers sound lovely. Another good idea.
      Thank you for the kind words. I do not know your name and can’t seem to find your blog but would like to follow.
      Oh yes, the fairy wings are very special. : )


    • Thanks for your thoughts Jean. Yes it is all of those things to me too.

      I can imagine you might be gifted in another sense. Gifted with the ability to write (yes), listen, to empathise, or maybe your gift is artistic or musical? In which case it is as you say, something you can bestow on someone.
      Thinking about the word/concept of ‘gifted’ is interesting. I find I don’t necessarily have an opinion on something until I have explored it in writing : )


      • Methinks that being “gifted” with a special natural skill that gets refined with instruction and encouragement, is also the person who has that “gift”, is in a way best to do something positive with it to help themselves and share the fruits of that gift with others.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well said! My parents always told me that you must never waste a talent. That you have a responsibility to develop it and use it for the greater good, which is more or less the same wisdom as yours.


  6. I so agree with you, Robyn. When my sons were small, I helped them make all their Christmas gifts. We still have ornaments they made on our tree! I tried to encourage the same in my grandchildren, and was pleased that my daughters in law embraced the custom with a vengeance! Drawings, treasure boxes, homemade truffles, cards- what could be better?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed! Indeed the things I treasure most from my kids are firstly time spent with them, the memories; and then the things they have made for me imbued with their love. So glad you’re teaching your grandies to value the same things. Thanks for visiting and taking time to comment.


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