The Gift of Giving

Here are some food-based gift ideas that might get us all thinking of giving in a different way this year, in a way that really embraces what this season is all about.

This post was going to be your run-of-the-mill gift guide.  All week, I’d been thinking of things you could get your food-iac friends and family.

And then, I sat down to write it.  I started and erased it three times.

Why was I having such a hard time writing such a simple post?

It might have something to do with a video I watched the other day of people waiting to get into a Victoria’s Secret once it opened on Black Friday.  The crowd brayed and yelled, pushing and elbowing their neighbours even though there was nowhere to go. Their nostrils flared, their eyes wide with a combination of fear and delight; it looked like a mosh pit, or dare I say it: a herd of cattle.  But that wasn’t what got me.

It was the look on the employees' faces.

They were scared.  And I think it is no exaggeration to say that I think they were actually scared for their lives, because once the doors opened, they knew that flood of people would knock them over, stomp on them, hurt them, yell at them -- all in the name of saving a few dollars for a present for someone they ostensibly really care about.

Have we possibly gotten away from the importance of this season, y’all?

We hear it every year, but I hope that I really get it this year.  This season is not about getting or giving more stuff.  This season commemorates a gift given to us, one of life and light in an otherwise dark world.  This season is about sharing that light with others, both those we love and those we don’t even know. It’s about counting our blessings, and celebrating in hope for the ones we pray for next year. And at a time of year where many of us have family to gather with and plenty of privileges, it’s a time to extend ourselves to those who have little to nothing or no one, because I imagine this is the time of year that the sense of lack hurts most.

"Ok little Miss Kill-Joy.  Does that mean we’re not exchanging presents this year?"

HECK NO!  I love me a present!  But I suppose I’m challenging us to go deeper with our gift-giving this year. Let’s actually observe what our friends and family truly need, and give in that direction. Someone told me about a gift a father gave his son: a pound of great coffee with a note attached: "This coffee only to be consumed when the two of us get together."  Isn’t that great?  So in that spirit, here are some food-based gift ideas that might get us all thinking of giving in a different way this year, in a way that really embraces what this season is all about.

1) Service Gift Certificates

These are the sweetest of all.  Think of something you can do for a family member or a friend, and make gift certificates with these "services": a scratch card with 5 coffee dates (you’re buying), breakfast in bed, a home-cooked meal, an offer to come take care of them when they next get sick.  Other ideas: mani-pedi dates, a foot rub at the end of a long day, or a written promise to do that one thing your friend has been asking you to do forever (go to that one museum/show/store), washing someone’s car, doing their laundry, babysitting their kids so they can go out for dinner with their significant other, organizing their kitchen if they’re awful at organizing (um, are my friends listening?!).  You can even make your certificates look really beautiful like these guys (pictured above) did!

Think about your loved ones for a spell, and I bet you’ll be able to come up with some really beautiful ideas that will not only be of service to your loved ones, but will touch them deeply when they realize that you’ve actually been listening to them.

I love these guys.  They collect used grease from restaurants such as Mario Batali & Nancy Silverton’s Mozza, refine it, use some of it as bio-diesel and turn the rest of it into a sublimely-fragranced line of candles and dish soap.  I can’t get enough of the fragrance; to me, it smells like a walk in the woods with a freshly showered man.  But that’s just me.  I’d like to give this to a friend who is always strapped for time with a note that says, "whenever you light this candle, please take three deep breaths before proceeding with the rest of your day, and know that I’m thinking about you."

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