Going Homemade

try the DIY approach to your gift-giving season

Mary Burt

While listening to the radio one recent afternoon, I happened to hear a program about the wastefulness of giving Christmas gifts. I can’t remember the name of the author or the book he had written, but the gist of the thing was that we give people gifts they neither need nor appreciate, and so the author estimated that the value of the gift was less than the buying price. The author, a university professor had done some research and come to the conclusion that a gift card is the most useful and appreciated Christmas gift. 

For a few minutes I found myself nodding in agreement, thinking of all those sweaters that weren’t the right size or color, the three tiered cookie trays I’d never used, or the pieces of art that never got hung on the wall. I pictured our family sitting around the tree on Christmas morning, opening one gift card after another, and somehow it all seemed rather drab and pointless. 

Then I began to think of the Christmas and birthday gifts that were the most meaningful to me. On my sixth birthday, I opened a huge box to find a cowgirl outfit, complete with a green and yellow felt skirt and vest made by my mother, a hat, and a Roy Rogers holster with a fake pearl handled six-gun. I remembered the Christmas when all three sisters received beautiful dolls, a precursor to Barbie, that came with a complete wardrobe of tiny costumes, all delicately knit or sewn by our mother, each doll with a different color hair so we could tell them apart. 

I thought about the Christmas when I was 10 and ice-skating was my major entertainment. My gift was the first and only new pair of ice skates I ever owned, accompanied by a red sweater with white snowflakes, and a matching hat and mittens, knit of course by my mother. I thought about all those Christmas decorations made by my own children in grade school that I hang on the tree each year and that bring back memories of their childhood. How could gift cards possibly create the happy memories of those gifts?