Giving gifts of sentimental value

It is the time of year for gift giving. I have always been a sentimental gift giver. At times this has been well received. At other times this has been scoffed at. I continue to do it because it feels awesome – to both give and receive sentimental gifts.

Last Christmas I wrote about how my family has always been one of giving and receiving homemade gifts. This has always been fun. So much thought and meaning goes into these! This season, I am reminded of a dear, dear friend who gifted me with amazingly valuable gifts.

This friend and mentor gave me a shoulder to lean in when times were tough – and I offered her the same in return. A retired teacher, she taught me a great deal about teaching, relationships, and life. One gift was a musical Christmas ornament – which plays Silent Night, my favorite. As I pulled this ornament out of its box today, I was reminded of the wonderful gift of her friendship!

Our friendship was one of the best gifts I have ever received!

One day, she placed a small velvet pouch in my palm and said, “you cannot refuse this as my gift to you.” Puzzled, I opened the pouch and found this beautiful gold pendent with diamonds and a pearl. She said, “The pearl represents all of the pains, sorrows, and turmoils that make you the beautiful woman you are. The diamonds represent each of the unimaginable accomplishments you will achieve.” I am not one to cry, but I teared up.

While this gift is monetarily valuable, the meaning behind it makes it a gift that I will cherish for a lifetime.

What are some of the valuable and most sentimental gifts you have received?

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Christmas memories – Homemade gifts

I don’t really like Christmas. I suppose it is my natural tendency towards negative thoughts. I tend to remember the negative experiences more vividly than the positive. I’m not at home this year for Christmas – the first time in my 29 years of breathing. It’s not too bothersome, I’m with some wonderful ‘family’. And I have been thinking about the Christmas’ past.

I’ve gotten to thinking about some of the wonderful gifts I received as a child. As the youngest of 5 children, I now find it amazing that I believed in Santa Clause for as long as I did (I think 3rd grade). In my family – we made gifts. Whether it was more cost-effective or just what we did – I’m sure it was some of both. One year, my dad made me a wooden Barbie house the year I badly wanted a Barbie Dream House. MY Barbie house had wall paper, carpeting, and a wooden staircase! NOTE: this Barbie house was recently renovated and my nieces play with it in my parents basement. WHAT a gift! That same year, I had been asking for a pet (like always). Santa brought me a small houseplant with a note – if I kept it alive all year I might get a pet the following year. The good thing, I kept it alive. The bad thing, I didn’t get that pet. Oh well!

Another homemade gift was furniture for my Cabbage Patch Kids. Made from PVC and vinyl-like fabric – a bunk bed, a high-chair, and a table and chair set. HOW COOL!!!! (But now that I think about it…this may have been a birthday present.) Most of my Cabbage Patch Dolls were also homemade. And Care Bears. Every year my mom made a tree ornament for each of us kids. I have a box full of ornaments, with a list that tells me which ornament was from which year, beginning with the needlepoint baby cradle in 1983! How fun will it be 20 years from now to put these on the tree! It’s fun now too, but I can only imagine how much more fun it will become. Blankets, quilts, mittens, scrapbooks, stuffed animals, wooden trains and firetrucks – you think it and it’s probably been under the tree at the house on Municipal Drive.

Several years ago I made these animals for my niece and nephew. So worth the blood, sweat, and tears!

DinoAly & Elephant

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Tiny tastes can add up

I originally posted this for UFF and our clients. I received such positive feedback, I wanted to provide it here. Holiday stress can be a nightmare – the last thing you want to endure is the evil, and unnecessary, weight gain. Below is some information that can be truly eye-opening.

The following excerpt from Tiny Tastes Can Total BIG Calories Over Winter Holidays by Alice Henneman, MS, Registered Dietitian, University Of Nebraska-Lincoln, sheds some light on “tiny tastes.”

The following food diary shows how those tastes really add up. The calories are approximate and will vary, depending on brand, recipe, exact serving size, etc.

Taste 1: OOPS! I broke that cookie removing it from the baking sheet. I’ll just eat the half that didn’t crumble. I deserve it for getting up early to bake before leaving for work. Approximate calories: 30

Taste 2: A coworker brought holiday candy to the office today. I’ll just eat one small piece of this homemade peanut brittle. Approximate calories: 80

Taste 3: It’s almost mid-afternoon and I haven’t eaten lunch yet. I’m using my lunch break to pick up a few items at the grocery store before I swing through a fast food place for a quick bite. The grocery store is offering free food samples, so I’ll just eat one small cracker with spread to tide me over until I get to lunch. Approximate calories: 40

Taste 4: The fast food place is giving out ¼ cup samples of its special flavored holiday coffee. I can’t pass that up! Approximate calories: 20

Taste 5: I’m about to leave the office for the day, but it’s still two hours before that holiday dinner tonight. I think I’ll check the break room for new goodies. Wow! Some chocolate-covered cherries have appeared! Chocolate is good for me, right? I’ll just have one. Approximate calories: 60

Taste 6: Maybe I shouldn’t stand near the snack table before the dinner party starts. I’m now dipping my third chip. Approximate calories: 75

Taste 7: Who can pass up old-fashioned eggnog? I’ll just have ½ cup. Approximate calories: 200

Taste 8: There are only two tablespoons of candied sweet potatoes left. I might as well enjoy it so it won’t be thrown out. Approximate calories: 60

Taste 9: While helping dish up the dessert I think I’ll take a little “preview” taste (using a separate tasting spoon, of course!). One heaping tablespoon of candy cane ice cream coming right up! Approximate calories: 100

Total Tasting Calories for the Day: 665

Note: If you continue taking “tiny tastes,” you could gain as much as a pound in a week! Consuming an extra 3,500 calories above what your body needs can lead to a one-pound weight gain.

So, think twice about having a little bit here or a little bit there. Those “tiny tastes” may not be as innocent and guilt-free as you once thought.