I'm thankful every day. Every single day, no matter how hard the day is, no matter how awful I might feel, or what heartbreak is in the news or in my own life, I find something to be thankful for. It's a foreign concept to me to only reflect and be thankful for a few days of the year. Perhaps if more people found just one thing, everyday, to be thankful for, the world would be a better place. I mean, be thankful for a cool breeze on a warm day, or be thankful that you have a roof over your head. Be thankful for the beautiful flower that you pass by as you go to get your mail. Be thankful that your children are healthy, for your ability to walk, or that you have food on your table. Be thankful for time spent with loved ones, be thankful for a small kindness from a stranger, and be thankful even on the coldest days in winter for the beauty of the snowflakes as they swirl to the ground. Engage with your world with the delight of a child, find beauty in everything, and be thankful always.
As for Black Friday sales, you won't see me out shopping any of them. I admit I did buy my mother a gift, one she specifically pointed out months ago, that I picked up and have been storing in the blanket closet for a couple months. I'm not sure what I will do for my dad and my brother yet. My handmade gifts tend to be simplistic and aimed more toward women. I have handmade earrings and jewelry, I can make pot holders, dish clothes, and soap scrubbies with yarn, and I can make cat toys. Nothing I suppose either of my male relatives would be thrilled to receive. Last year I gifted my brother with some home grown dried hot lemon peppers. Some dried whole or halved, and some that I ground up with my mortar and pestle. With the garden a flop this year, that's not much of an option for this year.
I'm sure I can come up with something interesting and either homemade or upcycled. I do have treats for my parents' dogs and my brother's dog (home made of course, and tested on our very own Moose).
As a child, my grandmother always gave me a pair of mittens that she had made by hand. Unfortunately Alzheimer's took her mind before I got the chance to learn how to make them. She taught me to make a pot holder, and from there I have been able to modify the same pattern to make dish cloths, soap scrubbies, and hats and tube socks. I miss getting handmade mittens every year. The lessons to create something myself cost her nothing but her time, and I find it to be incredibly valuable now as an adult.
This year I would encourage everyone to start thinking outside the box. Some nice gift ideas you might consider:
- hot chocolate mix in a mason jar
- cookie ingredients (dry only) in a jar, with instructions (for example: add 2 eggs, bake at 375 for 20 minutes)
- homemade foods, jars of jelly or jam, pickles, home baked bread, dried or ground peppers, farm fresh eggs from your chickens, etc.
- A handmade ornament. Use pine cones, hollowed out eggs, or fabric scraps. Incorporate old toys or re-purposed broken bits from other things.
- A nice photo. One of my most well received gifts was a photo of a friend's dog that had recently passed away. The frame was $1 at the dollar store and the photo cost something like 37-cents to print at a local photo center.
- Something re-purposed to be useful again. That pair of puddle boots your kid outgrew? Drill some holes in the bottom, fill them with potting soil, and add a plant. Excellent gift for grandparents!
- Seeds and plants - these can encourage a budding gardener, or bring joy to an elderly person who can't maintain a garden anymore. Never underestimate the power of a potted plant. Edible plants (Rosemary, thyme, mint, basil, etc.) make excellent gifts, so don't box yourself into thinking flowers or house plants are the only options. Plant seeds now to have seedlings to give for Christmas.
- Something hand crafted. Perhaps you're good at making jewelry, or blankets, or candles, or painting, or something else. A handmade gift is often more cherished than commercially purchased gifts because your time and energy went in to making it. Homemade gifts are not readily replaceable, and it gives you a degree of options to make each piece a little unique for the person it's intended for.
- Your time. Something many people overlook is something completely priceless. My grandma took the time to teach me to crochet, and that has become a valuable asset to me. An old neighbor showed me how to cross stitch. My mother-in-law taught me how to turn things inside-out to add batting to make quilts. My grandfather taught me to play cribbage. All of these things cost nothing but someone's time. If you have nothing to teach, no skill to share, then spend time and share your story. I remember the stories my grandma would tell about her childhood, and from her rambling (and often repeated) stories she told while deep into Alzheimer's, I was able to track down a long-lost family member I didn't even know existed, which opened up a whole new point of view for my extended family, and became a wonderful learning tool, even after my grandma had passed away. Don't underestimate the power of time spent with someone. Even if it's just baking cookies with your kids or grandkids, or the kid down the street who doesn't have someone there to teach them to bake. Sharing your time can make worlds of difference that you may not even know.