Friday, December 8, 2017

Simple Gifts

Do you know the song "Simple Gifts"?  If not, listen to it here. I sang it at some point in elementary school and it has stuck with me.

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.[4]

I have been blown away by simple gifts this week.  They have come in all forms: time spent with friends, cups of coffee, hospitality, offers to help babysit the girls, a Yankee candle(!!!!) and thoughtfulness.  Anyone who knows me well know that I am not a tangible gift kind of person.  In fact, my top love language is quality time - I discussed this in a blog I wrote in February.  Time spent with someone is the best gift... ever.  Do you know what I also love about this?!  It's quite literally PRICELESS.

This week was slightly different than other weeks; I seemed to be inundated with gifts!  It began on Sunday afternoon when I met with a friend who I hadn't seen in at least a year at Costa.  We caught up over a cup of coffee she paid for with a gift card she had been given.  A gift from a gift!  I'm really looking forward to the next time we catch up, and if it's at Costa, I'll treat her to a cuppa with a gift card (that I bought at a discount, of course!).  I offered to give her the gift of my time and hopefully talent to help her with something, but I won't say specifically what (if that's ok).

Early Tuesday morning I received a text from a friend. She had "a little something" for me. A little while later, she dropped a gold-tissue-paper-wrapped gift off.  She said that she had read in my post from last week (I think) that I love Yankee candles... and she had three and thought she didn't need all three and thought that I would!  Yes, inside was a Christmas Yankee candle!  How incredibly thoughtful!
Tuesday was also my husband's birthday.  He gives me the gift of laughter every single day.  He gives our family his constant love and devotion.  Ok, I'm getting a bit sappy... but I love him.  Jeff likes to keep things even simpler than me... which I don't always embrace!... but I know he appreciates having a yummy dinner and a couple of presents, so that's what we gave him. I must admit though that I went all out and cooked him steak instead of the usual "celebratory" meatloaf for dinner... I know, fancy... right?!  The girls and I baked him a ginger birthday cake that they loved decorating.

I started a second batch of vanilla extract on Wednesday.  My first batch turned out really well and there's something very, very lovely about opening a bottle of very vanilla-ey Vodka (yes, I take a whiff every single time) knowing that the matured extract was made by me.  Aaahh!  I've given a couple of small bottles away this year, which has been fun and will likely do the same again.  What was even more fun was telling my friend on Sunday that I had bought the vanilla pods that we were going to share - I bought 10, so 5 each - and that she didn't owe me anything because a) she had given me some lovely nutmeg, cocoa powder and homemade raspberry jam in October and it was my turn to reciprocate, and b) I actually used credit from our PayPal account that I had earned from purchasing something through a cashback website earlier in the year, so I didn't really pay for it.  A gift that keeps on giving!

I've also received offers from three friends to help with the girls due to having to work a few days while the girls are off school.  It's seriously so amazing to receive this gift of help and time so I don't have to worry about what to do with the girls those few days.  Friends' hospitality is another fabulous gift, especially after a long day at work when she serves you a comforting plate of absolutely delicious plate of potato pancakes and cream sauce.  A little TLC goes a long way!  Cups of coffee or tea are also very appreciated and Brits do this soooo well.
Yesterday, I gave myself a gift... the gift of quiet time in the car, listening to Frank Sinatra singing Christmas music while sipping a cappuccino from Costa that I got for free through the Wuntu app while my daughter slept in her car seat.  It was soooooo peaceful. I could have done something else in that time, but I didn't. Except for a few scrolls through the Facebook app, I just sat there in enjoying the peace and quiet... until it got too cold and I had to wake Brenna up to go inside the house.

This morning we were blessed by fresh snowfall. Now, I'm really not a big fan of snow, but we haven't experienced a real snowfall in years... maybe since we lived in Germany, but seeing the Winter Wonderland around us was simply beautiful.  My friend and I squealed with excitement as we ran out of the gym this morning... ok, it was mostly my friend 😉 The girls got the chance to build Frosty in the garden this afternoon and, while Ellen got to attend a Christmas tea party with her friends, Brenna and I took a walk together in the crunchy snow in the dark.
Jeff gave up a couple hours of his time and LOADS of energy to clear a large section of our street to help us and our neighbours drive up the street should it turn to ice overnight and/or snow more over the weekend.

During this time of giving, consider that gifts don't have to be expensive, just thoughtful.  Gifts come in all shapes and sizes.  Since giving reflects the condition of your heart, I want to encourage you to take the time to recognize the gifts you are given and also the gifts you could give to someone.

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