The gifts to keep on giving — and living

gift box

By the time you read this, there will be only nine more Fridays to Christmas Day — if we are so blessed. It’s 2020. I take nothing for granted. Ever.

Speaking of the vagaries of 2020, people are usually flat out annoyed that the Christmas holiday slides in almost before Halloween and Thanksgiving most years.

This year, the general consensus seems to be to keep things moving. Let’s just do a Hallow-Giving-Mas and call it good? Welcome 2021 and hope it’s the end of the whole mess that 2020 brought us.

Gift giving

I have never before published a gift giving guide because I am, quite honestly, probably terrible at it. I don’t mind giving gifts. I just want to know exactly what you want.

Please feel free to note the exact model, serial number and source if need be. I give gifts with the admonition “you can return it!” before the bow is even off the box — presuming there is a bow. I’m also not the world’s best wrapper. I try, but I get a lot of help from the cat, which is pretty much the equivalent of having no help at all.

The thing to remember is that if we got anything out of 2020 it is a reminder of what really matters: health, home, happiness. Okay, we can’t leave out entertainment streaming services and safe food carryout options.


I’ve been reading up on how people, finally forced to actually live in the homes they have been paying for, suddenly realized the place needs work. Or cleaning out. Or … something.

People seemingly are embracing “minimalism” and “organization.” A couple of savvy gals who organized by the colors of the rainbow have become the biggest thing since shiplap for most home decor aficionados.

Perhaps a great gift would be a gift of time. Offer to spend an afternoon doing some heavy lifting — or heavy thinking — on how someone can reshape their space.

Suddenly everyone wants to live their lives according to ROYGBIV. Lean into that. Whatever floats your boat.


Speaking of which, if you were fortunate to have a boat, or camper, or private “getaway” in 2020, you kind of sort of maybe had some sort of vacation. Otherwise, probably not. This year saw record growth in camping.

Friends who are currently shopping for a recreational vehicle were warned that the waiting list for new sale units stretches into 2021. I think the gift of some great campfire recipes given with love by someone who is good at such things (i.e. not me) would be wonderful.

Clearing out

I am definitely not “anti-stuff.” I love stuff. I love our home. I love to buy and paint and organize. That aside, getting rid of things is kind of my jam. I do love to clear out and leave open space too.

I’m not much for knickknacks unless they have deeper meaning in the scope of sentiment, travel or anything made by my kids. Our daughter made a video for my birthday that still makes me cry happy tears. She made one for her father as well. These gifts cost nothing but time.


I think more than ever connection is important (safely of course). Cards and letters are meaningful. The daughter of a dear friend just requested we all send written notes about our memories of her parents to commemorate their 30th wedding anniversary.

To say it was a joy to take part in this would be an understatement. I teared up writing it, and their daughter said she teared up reading it. That to me is a fine gift indeed. Cards, texts, voicemails or letters full of compliments and memories always fit if you ask me.

Gifts of food are always welcome as well: coffees, teas or homemade snacks, for example. Or make a meal and send it. Those are gifts made with love that add comfort — not clutter.

If you must spend money consider connection. One of my proudest moments as a mother is when BoyWonder, with his own funds, purchased a device to allow his newly widowed great-grandma video chat with family during the shutdown. We now “see” her regularly and I was even able to give her a “tour” of our home — with 70 miles between us.

As we approach the season of holiday giving, “Black Friday” shopping — and shopping in general —  may not look like it used to.

So what are the best gifts for and of 2020? What do you give to loved ones following a year of social distancing, confusion and stress?  I suggest a focus on presence — from near or far — rather than presents, might just be the best gift of all.

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