Finding that extra special, personal, much-loved Christmas present for those special people on your Christmas list can be a daunting task. There is so much to consider Is it the right color? The right size? Does it need batteries?
But while it can be stressful and I generally feel a little rushed, it is still once of the most exciting adventures one can undertake.
The family into which I married has a great tradition of looking for that perfect gift. They take into consideration your hobbies, talents and taste. My sister-in-law is perhaps the best at this. She has that knack for zeroing in on something terribly unique and very fun. An artist, Ruth once gave my husband a beautiful painting of a pastoral scene in greens, mauves and deep purples. It was one of her own paintings that she had spent many weeks creating for her big brother who has always been one of her greatest fans.
A couple years ago, I got on the handmade bandwagon and made my mother-in-law and Larry's great aunt beautiful crocheted shawls. They weren't anything too elaborate, just a nice, soft warm drape to wrap up in on a cold night. This year, I'm still struggling with what to give my mother-in-law. I've got a few ideas, but just haven't zeroed in "the" gift.
Her Christmas shopping skills are pretty amazing. She starts right after Christmas, sifting through the bins of discounted items, and managing to find gifts for nearly everyone - for next year. She stays alert throughout the year, picking up gifts here and there. By the time December rolls around, she's got gifts for everyone if she can just remember where she stashed them last January.
My mother-in-law is also well-known for putting the name tags on the packages in code. That keeps the kids from figuring out who gets which gift. It works great in theory until you lose the code's key. That Christmas was kind of fun. We just passed out all the presents and everyone ripped into the gifts and redistributed them to the right person afterwards.
I think the best gift I ever received was six years ago this weekend. Larry brought home a warm and cuddly little furball, Buster the dog. He was shy and curious when we first got him, but before too long, he was ruling the roost. He thinks of himself as the alpha dog, even though he's about 50 pounds lighter and a third the size of our flat-coated retriever, Toby. Today, they're fast friends and routinely cuddle up together on the sofa for afternoon naps.
So, as I forge through my Christmas list, I'll keep looking for that perfect gift that will bring a smile to the recipient's face. Those smiles on Christmas morning make it worth all that effort. The memories of those smiles are the best gifts I could receive.