Christmas is a time to give creative gifts, something children intuitively love to do. On a December morning when eight years old, I received monumental inspiration. I had recently learned from my big brother how to make ash trays out of tin can lids. You banged on the lid to make decorative dents and then used pliers to fold up the edges into pretty flutes. I would make one for Dad who smoked and my brother could use it for spare change! I surreptitiously rescued tin can lids from the trash can and borrowed Dad’s tools to sneak out to the back yard and got to work. Further inspired, I linked paper clips together into a necklace and bracelet for my sister Jane who loved jewelry. Now I was on a roll! Not sure what to give my sister Ann, my eyes landed on my favorite little pretty yellow box. It was an empty Dr. Scholl’s corn pad box that was the perfect size to hold little objects such as pretty rocks, marbles, or anything I chose to collect. I emptied out the stamps it held, which I had torn from envelopes I found in the trash. I was suddenly not so sure I wanted to part with it, but so excited to give it as a gift I just forged ahead! What to give Mom? I walked through the kitchen and heard her sneeze. Kleenex! She needed them for blowing her nose. So when no one was around I pulled a bundle of Kleenex out of the box on the kitchen counter and sneaked them up to my room.
Wow! Was I excited about Christmas that year! Christmas morning I hurried down eager to watch everyone open gifts. I hit the jackpot of joy with everyone except Ann. “Mom!!! She gave me an empty corn pad box!” No matter how hard I explained that it was my absolutely favorite box, I could not placate her. Well, four out of five wasn’t bad. Mom blew her nose and thanked me repeatedly. Dad used his ash tray for several weeks and then it seemed to end up on a closet shelf. I was on to something here. Giving gifts was fun!
Receiving creative gifts is equally valuable.
We may receive a gift that seems irrelevant or even silly. This is the time to look beyond the gift to the intention behind the giving. A friend, Herb, told me of a Christmas when he received a gift from his cousin in a family gift exchange. Deb drew his name. Recently divorced, the black sheep of the family, and struggling with alcoholism, she was destitute. She shyly handed him an unwrapped gift, a simple round stone with a pink heart and the word “love” written on it with a marker. Embarrassed, she explained, “It isn’t much; it’s just what I could do”. Out of the corner of his eye he saw relatives shaking their heads and exchanging glances. Instantly, Herb realized what courage it took for her to attend the gathering, let alone give a simple gift with no perceived value. The stone reflected her search for a loving heart. He stood up, pulled her up and gave her a long hug, thanking her profusely. Tears coursed down her cheeks as she watched him put it in his pocket over his heart. He told me it was one of the most valuable gifts he ever received.
Have a creative idea? Act on it.
Receive a creative gift? Appreciate the thought.
Can’t think of a creative gift? Write a note listing all the strengths and appreciation you have for someone and wrap it up. Joyfully share validation with another soul.
Take life into your own hands and make it happen. It’s your life. Lead it.
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