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.
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?