Simple Gifts

Husband and I finally had time last weekend to see to the garden to trim the irises, peonies, and day lilies, roll up the soaker hoses to store them in the basement, and take down the bean poles and tomato cages. It has been very cold at night here, with lows of 20°F.

Despite the cold, the spinach and chard have thrived over the past few weeks. Our next door neighbors, whose children help us in our garden, love chard. I only grow it to make a couple of Italian pie of greens each summer, and freeze some for pies in the winter. We always have more than we need, and the neighbors take the fresh chard we gladly give them to extended family gatherings where they cook it up and sprinkle it with vinegar. It is their family delicacy.

I thought I had picked the last bit of chard a couple of weeks ago, but during our garden clean up I noticed that the remaining chard had grown some pretty big leaves. I asked the neighbor if he could use some more, and he and the children came over and clipped the chard to the ground for one last autumn feast.

Husband visits a couple of our Lutheran congregation members who reside in an assisted living community to bring them communion. There is always an exchange of their homemade pickles and slices of pie for our pesto sauce and pastries. Simple gifts that mean so much.

What are the simple gifts that are precious for you to give and to get? Have any of your pets brought you “gifts”?

38 thoughts on “Simple Gifts”

  1. Thanks, Renee, for this question. It’s one I have been pondering a lot lately.

    Here’s a response that I’m pretty sure will occur to at least some baboons, so let’s get that out of the way. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to it. It’s truly a simple gift:

    ‘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.
    ~ A dance song by Shaker elder, Joseph Brackett Jr. 1848 ~

    Liked by 8 people

  2. My wife and I spent two summers living in a fly fishing tackle shop in northern Wisconsin, working as clerks by day and sleeping in the basement at night. Pippen, our cat, bloomed as a predator in the second summer.

    We knew Pippen had taught himself to be a hunter because he presented us with proof. Sometimes Pippen’s trophies were alive and well, and that led to chaotic scenes where my wife distracted Pippen while I chased some captured critter with a trout net so I could release it back in the wild. Once the living trophy was some kind of jumping rat that resembled a kangaroo. Once it was a baby woodcock.

    Mice were not so lucky. He ate his mouse captures, all except the nose and whiskers. We assumed he didn’t consume the noses and whiskers because they were trophies, proof of his prowess. I remember waking one morning to find that Pippen had caught six mice in the night. There were six nose-whisker remains in a neat little line next to our bed.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Daughter suggested to us and her brother and his wife that this Christmas we surprise eachother with gifts that are from local vendors wherever we live instead of sending lists to one another and buying from big retailers. We all thought this was a good idea. I am looking forward to seeing what we get.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    When we lived North of Grand Rapids, MN in the late 70s we had to have a cat to manage the vermin. We lived in a trailer on a wilderness and this was an effective strategy. Joshua, the hunter cat, was in his glory there, and would often leave gift leftovers: a tail, an ear, a foot. Then one day he came inside with a somewhat chewed, still living ground squirrel and let it go. It drug itself off quickly and I never found it. Shudder. BTW, we also had a fully alive grouse fly into the glass window of a bedroom, break it, and land on the foot of the bed where it shook itself spreading blood everywhere (reminding me of discussion of blood from yesterday). What a surprise that was.

    I love to give friends gifts of homemade jam or tomato soup. This always is gladly received. I love getting similar things (bread, apple butter, etc.). Renee, the idea of local vendors as a source of gifts is terrific.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. We arrived home from Phoenix yesterday, so I am mildly jet-lagged and on top of that trying to adjust to several time changes. It leaves me feeling like that chewed up ground squirrel. Uff Da.

      Liked by 5 people

  5. My pet’s gifts to me are daily songs. Dart always starts first after breakfast. The other three will chime in quickly. They don’t seem to mind my accompaniment.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Giving gifts well is an art that few people master.

    My thoughts on giving were influenced by my mother in law, a wonderful person who was terrible at giving. She saw shopping as an odious chore to be done as quickly as possible. She once gave her husband a sweater that was two or three sizes too small. At her insistence, he tried putting it on. The size mismatch caused everyone in the family to roar with laughter. My mother in law wasn’t hurt, for she knew giving was not among her strengths. “You must have gotten fat,” was her explanation.

    I have worked hard at giving people simple, thoughtful gifts. And yet I often miss the mark. In my family, gift giving was my mother’s realm, and she was exceptionally generous. I have several times offended people with gifts they didn’t expect or feel right about accepting. Instead of looking like simple expressions of good will my gifts sometimes made people think I’m trying to influence them.

    But this isn’t an ongoing problem. One of the many blessings of poverty is that people don’t expect gifts from me.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’d like to offer a slightly different perspective, Steve. I think you’re right, that being a good gift giver is something that a lot of people haven’t mastered. However, I don’t think it’s because they either love or hate shopping, or how much money they have at their disposal. Sure it’s easier if you have a large budget, but I know some of the finest gifts I’ve ever given or received, cost little or nothing.

      In your case, surely you can come up with something unique that will be appreciated by the recipients. Dig into your memory bank and put your writing skills to use. It might just turn out to be a gift to yourself as well.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I didn’t mean to imply that poor gift giving is always or usually caused by aversion to shopping and/or having no money. There are so many ways that gift giving can go wrong.

        As for my giving friends and family members stuff I’ve written, I do that literally every week. One of my favorite things to do is writing things I can share with people I care about. I might share more than some people are happy to get, but it is easy for them to delete things I send via email.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Talking about gifts made me reflect on the annual Solstice gift exchange at vs’ house. The fun and joy of that exchange doesn’t depend on anyone, let alone everyone, going home with something they cherish. You might, or may leave plotting revenge at next year’s exchange. Either way, you’ll have had a lot of laughs at some of the crazy items offered up, and the subsequent “stealing” of someone else’s haul. I love that some of the folks there obviously take great delight in finding something really outrageous and funny to give. Good times. Thanks, vs.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. And because I don’t think that the pandemic is completely in our rearview mirror just yet, YA snd I made the decision a couple of weeks ago that we are not going to do the Great Gift Exchange this year. I’m just not ready to have 40 people crammed into the first level of my house, as much fun as it is and even knowing that most of my peeps are vaccinated. Fingers crossed for 2022!

      Liked by 5 people

        1. I’m really hoping that by March things will be more settled and I’ll be able to do Pi Day. And that will be fitting since I called off Pi Day the night before in 2020. So that means all of them two full years with no parties at my house (except for the small graduation party we had out on the driveway in May for YA).

          Liked by 3 people

  8. I’ve gotten to the point where handmade and simple gifts are a lot of fun for me. I love getting artwork from little girls next-door, or things that are sewn for me by my friend Julie, or cookies from my friend Susan, kitchen towels embroidered by my friend Anne. Maybe it’s because YA and I make a lot of our gifts that we truly appreciate those who make gifts for us. And gifts of experience are always fun as well. My BFF Sara always gives me Cantus tickets for my birthday.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Gifts from the kitties. Before I ever had a cat, every fall we would deal with the mice finding their way into the house when the weather got cold. It was a fact of life. Then we got Zorro. I had Zorro for 20 years and I never found a dead mouse, I never found any Evidence that he had ever killed a mouse or eaten a mouse. But we never had mice in the fall after he joined the family. Current cat Nimue kills them but doesn’t bloody them up before she leaves them on the kitchen floor or the steps going down to the basement. Luckily no partially digested gifts!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. So far we’ve found four dead mice on the rug under the dining room table during the last six weeks. Martha is earning her keep. She appears to have no interest in eating them, which is just fine with me. The interesting thing is that I see no evidence of mice otherwise, but obviously some have moved indoors. I wonder where they are hanging out.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Bailey, our dog, brought home 2.5 deer legs and some deer skin holding it all together. Then Humphrey gnaws on them and gets a tummy ache and farts for 2 days. I give him GasX… Kelly sprays Febreeze.
    It’s a whole big thing….

    Liked by 3 people

        1. Some of the neighborhood hunters dump their deer guts and skins out in the woods. Now, it is our fault the dogs wander off to find those skins and carrion. And then they bring them home…

          Liked by 2 people

  11. I love both giving and receiving home-made food gifts, or things bought at art fairs and from local merchants. This summer our eggplant did wonderfully, and since Husband doesn’t like it, I ended up giving it away to a friend who loves eggplant – she was delighted. She made muffins for us… I’ve given pesto, pear chutney, applesauce… as Christmas gifts in the past.

    Charlie the Cat used to deposit little gifts on the back steps – often chipmunks just the hind legs and tails.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve had several cats that hunted mice, but Isabel was the one who would gift them to me, usually in the middle of the night.

    One lovely gift I received from one of my nieces was a photo album of pictures she had taken of my cats. I had four cats at the time. One of them hid when visitors came, but there were good shots of the other three, and the album was nicely done up with scrapbooking ornaments.

    Liked by 4 people

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