The Holidays are a beautiful time of year. Since childhood, I have enjoyed the sights, smells and sounds of my holiday celebration, Christmas. Despite the snickers of my friends, I loved my Great-Grandmother's fruitcake, especially the rich smell. My parents used to load my three siblings and me into the car no matter where we lived (I was a Navy brat) and we'd drive around and look at all the houses lit up in celebration. I especially loved Seattle. And, despite my annoyance at how early it starts (October sometimes) and being tired of it by January, the distinctive sounds of the music enchant me. Along with all this, the Holidays also bring their own brand of stress: financial and familial. This year, particularly in law enforcement due to the uncertainty of cutbacks both in hours and pay, stress is increased.
As I look around, it seems public safety is shouldering a large portion of the economic hardship of government. Officers are losing their jobs, police tele-communicators are taking forced furlough days and the list goes on and on. Where there used to be job security, there is now a gaping hole of wonder: Will I have a job next month? Will I get paid? Will I be able to work enough hours to pay my bills? All of these questions silhouetted by the Holiday season seem even more dire. One of the ways we can offset the stress of the season is to rethink gift giving.
Think back to all the gifts you have received over the last 10 years. Do you remember all of them? How about even a dozen? What about one or two? If you're anything like me, there are a few that stand out, but sadly most have passed from memory. I would say that probably holds true for my partner and my children as well. What's sad is the amount of gifts that have passed through our hands that seem to have meant nothing. What gifts do stand out, those I have given as well as received, were inexpensive, unique and mostly hand-made. Gifts such as the die car crate I painted for my son when he was 7, the star my husband had named for me on our second anniversary and the globe ornament my son made me with a list of all the things inside with a note telling me what they were and what they meant.
From the hearth and heart
One of the things I've often heard, and often heard others telling each other, is, "You don't have to buy me anything. Just make me something." Look at how well we receive handmade gifts from children. They're unique. They're special. Underlying the paper and glue is the message, "You mean so much to me that you're worth my time and creativity." It's easy to buy a gift. It takes more thought and action to create something.
Making a gift for your loved one doesn't mean you have to paint the next Picasso or compete with the ex-boyfriend's gazebo in Meet the Parents . Keep it simple. This is supposed to be reducing stress, remember? A few ideas: make a special meal, craft something, write a letter telling them how much they mean to you, record a special message that can be played on their multi-media player (they can listen to it on those dark nights sitting in their patrol car), or design a coupon book. Coupon books are great because every time a coupon is redeemed, it's like you've just given your significant other a gift again. Each coupon can be simple like,
- Take out the trash for you
- Give you a full massage
- Go do something together. Your choice. My treat.
It can also be more suggestive and double as not only a gift, but a way to spice up your love life. A sex coupon book can include a variety of offers as well. If you're stumped for ideas, browse one of the ones available commercially. Whatever you chose, a handmade gift is inexpensive, personal and usually gets remembered years later.
Over the hills and through the woods