Service of Favorite Gifts

December 22nd, 2011

Categories: Christmas, Gifts


I love giving and getting gifts.

At this time of year I like to think of some of the best gifts I’ve given.

My definition of best means perfect for the person. When my oldest nephew John was five, I gave him a football outfit. Other adults thought he was much too young for this extravagance [for me] but I had a gut feeling he’d like it. He did: Especially the shoulder pads and helmet. He wore the helmet everywhere, or at least when he’d spend the night at his grandparent’s home [where I lived then too].

knitting-and-yarn1One Christmas I knitted sweaters although I hadn’t knitted in eons and had made only one–for a child–before. Most of the sweaters were an embarrassment. Only one turned out: It was my Dad’s. It was handsome.

I can’t list the many favorite gifts I’ve received because there are so many. And I like to keep my posts short and to hear from readers–not do all the “talking.” Also I don’t want readers of this blog, some of whom have given me wonderful, thoughtful, toothsome and/or stunning presents, to feel miffed if I don’t mention one of theirs.

I’ll nevertheless share a few:

My stepdaughter once sent a huge box filled with every color of lilac that she’d picked in New England and carefully packed [obviously not for Christmas].

When I had chickenpox, my sister gave me a felt dog with sad sack expression and circular markings that I loved to shreds.

pandaMy aunt gave me a soft and fuzzy panda when I was a child far too old to officially receive such a toy. It was perfect for me: I still love stuffed animals.

More recently, Homer gave me my cat, Caramelli, my digital camera and [not so recently] a wedding ring.

What gifts have you most enjoyed receiving and giving?


14 Responses to “Service of Favorite Gifts”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    YOUR wonderful telling about gifts you gave– is a gift for me! What a lovely story! Thank you.

    I was given a “Hopalong Cassidy” complete outfit when I was 7 and thought it was great! For a few weeks I WAS “Hoppy”!

    My daughter was given a large flower arrangement on her day of arrival on the planet, and it had a Pink Bear as part of it. To this day she still has that bear, and cherishes it. As if to follow in that path, my niece and I both gave my grand daughter Eden a “Piglet” character from Winnie The Pooh, and she lugs one, or the other EVERYWHERE she goes…

    Again Jeanne, thanks for YOUR sharing and have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS ! ! !

  2. Nancy Farrell Said:

    When I was 11 years old I took a trip with my family to a warm, sunny place. My dad had to work for most of this trip and I’d planned on visiting the local library to work on a paper I was writing for school on Mark Twain. The library in this beautiful place was in one tiny room. It was clearly underfunded and a shock to me. I couldn’t find anything on Mark Twain. After dinner that night my father took me to a bookstore. I found a suitable book but it was enormous with several hundred pages and hardcover to boot and at a cost of $30 was $10 more than we spent at the grocery store for our family of five. After some thought, my father agreed to buy the book for me if I promised to read the entire book. I still have that book and I can’t bear to part with it.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Thank YOU.

    You just reminded me of Sleepy Head. I had one as a child. I adored her and we went to bed together every night. She would get so filthy dirty that instead of washing her [I don’t know if she was washable] every Christmas she would disappear and a new Sleepy Head would take her place. I complained…but I guess my Mom thought she was doing the right thing for hygiene reasons!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What a wonderful story. And good for you for finishing–and keeping–the precious book!

    Stories like that don’t always work out. A new friend recently told me that his grandchild lost her cell phone. He said he’d buy her an iPhone if she promised not to use it when they were having dinner together. She still texts when they are together in restaurants. I may be cruel, but if I had given the child the phone, I would reach over the dinner table and take it from her and tell her that she broke her promise.

  5. Phyllis Stier Said:

    Hi, Jeanne, I always remember this gift I received from you! I was about 9 years old, and you came for a visit when we lived in Maryland. You brought me a box filled with about a dozen grosgrain ribbons, neatly rolled, and of every color and design. At the time I had very long hair, down to my waist, and so this was perfect for me! As a child usually lost in a crazy,dysfunctional family, I felt this was so personal, and was given to me after much thought as to what I would really love, and it came from such a sophisticated, wonderful person! Wow… I did wear them, and mostly kept them neat and tidy, and just loved them. So, thank you for that. ( PS, if anything else occurred on that trip, please don’t tell me, wanna keep my happy memory 🙂 ) Love to you both, Happy Holidays!

  6. Martha Takayama Said:

    Your friendship is one of my cherished gifts, that has withstood the test of time.

    Since I am still engaged in last minute but earnest gift preparation I have to be extra brief. (Perhaps that is a gift for the reader!) Among the gifts I have always enjoyed giving and receiving are books. My family always gave them, and I continue to do so.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Wow, Phyllis! Thanks.

    I try to give children something different for a whole bunch of reasons.

    Today, I don’t have the budget to spend thousands on electronic gizmos and their parents give them pounds of it anyway. For that reason, most get real books or things they can learn to make or play with in 3D rather than twiddle alone, digitally. Most are probably annoyed, but maybe some, like you, “get” my gifts.

    As for your PS, all I remember is your beautiful family and children and Mom and your love and support.

    Merry Christmas!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Thank YOU! And ditto–though we all love your beautifully crafted, longer comments! In spite of the seasonal rush, you took time to chime in for which I am grateful.

    Books are a great choice, easy to share and keep. And we are lucky that for the moment, anyway, there are enough real ones in print that a gift-giver can find one they think their friend or relative would like, something that’s so easy to wrap to celebrate the season or a birthday.

  9. Martha Takayamat Said:

    Thank you for your gracious compliments. I must add that the existence of your incredibly wise, genteel,and witty blog certainly is a timely gift which I consider of great importance. I think of it as a significant tool for spreading considerate and thoughtful behavior. This it also makes it socially and politically quite significant in these turbulent times..

  10. jeanne byington Said:


    To write more than another thank you to your second lovely comment would feel like drinking a toast to myself. So thank you!

  11. Hester Craddock Said:

    As much as I think giving gifts at Christmas is part of a vicious plot by the Goldman Sachs people who manipulate, to the point of control, both of our political parties so as to persuade us to consume, needlessly, as much as we can of the world’s precious and diminishing resources in order to yet further enrich themselves, I will never forget the marvelous, and expensive, sheepskin moccasins my husband gave me for Christmas twelve years ago. I wear them all the time, and now it is a question of which wears out first, them or me. They were the best present I ever had.

    Thank you husband.

  12. Lucrezia Said:

    The best gifts to give are those you know will delight the person at the other end. Same goes for those received from relatives/friends who have taken the time and trouble to know you well enough to return the favor.

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Those must be some moccasins!

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Something tells me you are very good at this.

    Sometimes a surpise makes a gift work. A Baruch mentor told me that he was called to the lobby of his apartment building a few years ago. There was one of the students he mentored with a birthday cake she’d made for him! He is a quiet, not boastful man but he was so touched he told me about it.

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