It may be better to give than to receive, but when it’s a well-thought-out gift, being on the receiving end of things has its distinct pleasures. I’ve already told you about some of the things I gave family and friends this year in a recent post, holiday gift ideas from the heart. The follow-up to that post is that my parents adored the memory book my brothers and I made for them. I won’t go into the details of the multitude of setbacks and difficulties we had getting it together, but it was worth it because it was a such a hit. My father even said to me, “That’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten in my life.” Since he’s 75 years old, those were pretty sweet words to hear.
On the receiving end of things, I felt very fortunate this year, especially since I really didn’t think I needed anything. But I was given thoughtful treasures that will add to my life. The cookbook above was a gift from my sister-in-law, and I absolutely love it. First of all, soup is one of my favorite things to cook. And even though I have lots of recipes already, one can never have too many. But the really amazing thing is that I love this author, Anna Thomas, since she wrote two of my all-time favorite cookbooks, the (practically vintage by now) vegetarian staples: The Vegetarian Epicure, and The Vegetarian Epicure, Book Two, which I still own after acquiring back in the 1980s. I can’t wait to use Anna’s method for cooking broth, and to make some of the delicious-sounding soups like Creamy Potato and Roasted Garlic, Puree of Carrot and Yam with Citrus and Spices, and the various kinds of green soups (purees of vitamin-packed greens, which I love). Thank you, SIL!
One of my husband’s gifts, in addition to the thoughtful and practical stereo speakers to replace the blown-out pair in my car, was this DVD set, the next fix for our Mary Tyler Moore addiction. We both grew up watching this show, and share a fondness for the brilliant writing and surprisingly progressive view on women, work, and families. I wonder if there could be a TV show now about a single woman in her 30s whose work is an important part of her life, and whose coworkers are practically her family, that wouldn’t always include episodes about her biological clock and anxiety and regret that she’s unmarried and without children.
A $100 gift card to Trader Joe’s is a delightful treat from my parents, since we will use it to purchase items we would not normally splurge on: the over-$10 bottle of wine, prepared dips, luscious chocolate, and various seafood concoctions my husband covets. It will make for a fun shopping adventure on a day we could use a little pick me up.
And finally, this teapress/teapot from a thoughtful friend has literally changed our life. Delivered along with a pound of delicious South African Rooibas tea, my husband and I have been drinking several cups a day ever since we opened it. And that’s good for our physical AND mental health. The tea is so rich and flavorful it’s hard to believe it’s herbal (sorry, herbal enthusiasts), and the ingenious design of the pot allows you to stop the process at the desired steeping level, so that second cup isn’t too strong or bitter. It’s a simple but brilliant method of making tea a bigger part of our lives. Thank you, island friends! We’ll think of you at tea time.
Those are just a few of the season’s treasured gifts. We’re still enjoying the bounty of freshly-baked cookies and other food gifts and slowly getting into the post-holiday rhythm of the New Year. And my most treasured gift of all is another year of health and happiness, living with my awesome husband in our challenging old house together.
What are some of your favorite holiday gifts, either that you gave or received? Please share in the Comments section.