The Saturday after Thanksgiving, I was one of a small group of family members who went early to help prepare for my cousin’s celebration of life gathering.
As you can imagine, the minute I saw his Mom we both burst into tears.
She hugged me harder than she’d ever hugged me before and said, “Thanks so much for coming. It’s such a gift to have you here.”
The gathering was held at my cousin’s favorite time of day, golden hour.
And as the cotton candy-colored sky gave way to a thousand tiny stars there was one word that I kept hearing over and over again…gift.
“I’m thankful for the 26 years I had with him. They were a gift.”
“His genuine love of life was such a gift.”
“What a gift he was able to travel as much as he did.”
“He was a gift to all of his patients.”
“I’ve never seen some of these photographs. What a gift to have them now.”
As I’ve tried to make sense of this tragedy, my content calendar, and what’s left of my Christmas shopping list this week, I’ve also been thinking about gifts in a completely different way.
I thought about how my Dad is notoriously difficult to buy for so the gifts I’m giving him are ones that will help make his life easier or better.
Or how the gifts I’m giving my Mom are things she could easily afford but wouldn’t normally allow herself to indulge in.
Both ideas have served me well over the years, especially when I feel stuck while searching for that something special.
What I’ve learned through this tragic and very unexpected experience though is just how many beautiful gifts that never make it under the tree.
The gifts of prayer, of perfect peace, of joy, grace, wisdom, strength, mercy, hope, and love.
The gift of, “I’m here for as long as you need, for as long as it takes.”
The gift of, “I saw this and thought of you.”
The text or voicemail that immediately takes the pressure off and begins with, “You don’t have to call or text me back I just wanted you to know I was thinking of you, and I love you.”
The gift of a hot meal during an illness, job changes, a new baby, caregiving duties, or tragic loss.
The gift of putting down your phone at family events to be fully present and engaged.
The gift of a tender hug that lingers a bit and makes you feel all warm inside.
So, as you’re organizing and crossing off the last of your shopping list, I want you to think out of the box.
Are diamonds and trips great gift ideas? Of course! I don’t think any of us would turn them down.
But this holiday season, I encourage you to dig a little deeper to find what someone *really* needs.
It just might be a gift you’ve already been equipped to give and what you consider small might help open someone’s heart and change their life forever.
Thank you again to everyone who prayed, lit candles, and reached out with sweet support during this time.
You’ll never know what true gifts they have been.
A Few of Our Favorite Things from Around the Web This Week…
Seasonal Home and Garden Tours:
- There are so many gorgeous shades of blue in Sara Hillery’s feature for Southern Living. That staircase, right? Stunning!
- I love the simple elegance of this holiday home featured on Jacquelyn’s blog Lark and Linen.
- If you haven’t seen them yet, Kelly from The Tattered Pew kicked off the Bloggers’ Best Home Tour which features 30 holiday homes.
Seasonal Craft and DIY Inspiration:
- LOSING IT in the best possible way over these pink tree ideas Jennifer from Town and Country Living. I pinned them all!
- You’ll never believe how Kim of Perfecting Places made these beautiful Christmas trees. I’m still in awe!
- Loved the beautiful book page ornaments Rachel from The Ponds Farmhouse made this week. I can’t believe they’re from The Dollar Tree!
- Leave it to Tanya of Twelve O’Eight to make these fabulous textured Christmas ornaments.
- Nicolle from Our Tiny Nest made the best homemade gingerbread syrup and I can’t wait to up my coffee bar game.
- Niky of The House on Silverado made the coolest Advent Calendar for her granddaughter and it’s totally doable for tweens, teens, and adults too.
- The DIY Advent Wreath Kim of Tidbits and Twine shared is really pretty if you’re gearing up for Sunday. I can’t believe it’s already here!
Health and Wellness Inspiration:
- How to Have a Simple Christmas – 7 Ways to Simplify (via B Vintage Style)
- How to French Approach to Health Changed My Wellness Routine and Lowered My Stress Levels (via Well and Good)
- This is exactly how much exercise you need per week and why it’s important (via Real Simple)
- These French Fashion Essentials via Maison de Cinq are all totally doable. I love the pops of red!
Simple Pleasures and Little Luxuries:
- Grab one of Rachel’s hand-poured holiday-inspired candles before they sell out!
- These would make such a sweet Christmas gift.
- And this is a gift idea you can use to celebrate all year.
If You’ve Missed Anything from the Blog or the Archives Recently, Here’s a Peek At What We’ve Been Up To…
A Little Sparkle Holiday Home Tour (Our most popular holiday home tour to date!)
Our Best Holiday Gift Guides (224 Gift Ideas to Explore)
You can find last week’s From the Front Porch post here, in case you missed it…
Organizing the Week Ahead…
Words to Live By:
Dates to Celebrate and Commemorate:
- 12/01 Buy Cards and Special Occasion Gifts for December
- 12/01 The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting
- 12/02 National Mutt Day
- 12/03 First Day of Advent
- 12/04 National Cookie Day
- 12/06 St. Nicholas Day
- 12/07 Hannukah Begins
Weekly Simplified and Organized Home Challenge Task:
- Mail Christmas Packages
3 Simple Ways to Celebrate the Season:
- Observe Advent
- Donate to a Sweater Drive
- Make Gingerbread Cookies
Easy Gift Ideas We Spotted Online at Amazon This Week…
(Amazon affiliate links have been provided for your convenience. As an Amazon and Impact Media Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Any sales made through such links will support us with a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can read our full disclosure policy here)
As always, we appreciate you more than you could ever know, and we hope your weekend is peace-filled and relaxing. We can’t wait to share even more with you next week!