The Beauty of Gifts

I’ve always tended to be drawn to the minimalist idea on life.   I didn’t feel I needed more “stuff” to be happy.  That being said, I would bristle at big gift giving occasions.  I become haughty and was not my best self.  I have changed my tune.  While I think gift giving / receiving can be senseless and materialistic, I also believe it can be beautiful and a wonderful, thoughtful way to let someone know that you are thinking of them.  I believe it is true that the thought really does matter when gift giving.

Gifts I have received over the years are part of my most cherished material possessions.  In fact, this Christmas I received a  gift that I use every day.

My Mugs


When I was younger, I would go hiking with my Grandpa.  He had a hiking group he met with on Thursdays, and over the summers, I got to go along a few times.  I hold these memories very dearly.  One Christmas years ago, my Nana and Grandpa gave me a brown mug with a hiker on it.  I have had it through my years when I was doing my undergraduate work, and when I traveled to Iowa to start work toward my PhD (which I never achieved).


This mug allowed me to stay connected to my home and my family.  Particularly, it connected me to my Grandpa.  It reminded me of a place where I was always loved.  My Grandpa died just under five years ago, but he was ill from Parkinson’s many years before that.  Every morning, I drank my coffee from a mug that would connect me with him.  This was one of my few belongings that I would not share.  Only I drank from this mug.  Not my husband, not my child.  This was solely mine.

A year ago, I was making myself a cup of tea.  When I poured boiling water into my cherished mug, cracking the it.  Hot water flowed from my cup onto the counter, and tears flowed from my eyes.  I looked up ways to fix my mug, but the crack was long, and even if I fixed it, I couldn’t use it.  The methods used to fix a mug leaves it unusable.  So, I placed it in my office, and I gaze at it while I’m working.  It helps me feel connected to my late Grandfather.


When my Nana asked me what I wanted for the Christmas, I told her I wanted a mug.  I loved having that small daily reminder of my loving grandparents.  I wanted that to continue and I wanted it to be something my Nana selected particularly for me.

Late  on Christmas morning, we went to my parent’s house to exchange presents.  I was expecting to get a mug from my Nana.  I was looking forward to having a sentimental piece of ceramic to hold in my hands every morning.    When I opened one of my presents, it was indeed a mug from my Nana.  But to my surprise, it wasn’t a mug bought just for me.  It was my grandfather’s mug which he used.  It looked so similar to the mug they bought me years ago.  I had no clue my grandfather even owned this mug.  I had no clue we had been enjoying drinks from the same mug all these years.


I felt so deeply close to him, and so deeply close to my Nana.  These two mugs, together, are my most cherished, sentimental possessions.  Every time I sip from my mug, I have a quiet, gentle reminder of all the love I have been blessed with over the years.  All from a gift, a material possession.

I’ve received gifts, that while not as sentimentally charged, have also left me feeling so blessed.

A Book and a Bookmark

A few months ago, I was gifted a book from a family friend.  I even wrote a review of the book here.  Receiving this book was so wonderful.  First, she thought of me and thought I would like this book.  The thoughtfulness involved in getting someone a book that which you sure that would enjoy is profound.  But there was something else included in the book.  Some other material goody which I have grown to love and which I deeply appreciate.

A Bookmark.

But not just any bookmark.  This is a bookmark that was made by the gift giver.  I love to read, and I use this bookmark in my books.  When I look at it, it reminds me of the love, kindness and thoughtfulness of it’s original giving.  And, as it was handcrafted, it feels like a little bit of that person is with me when I read my books.


As you can see on the bottom of the bookmark, the word “Tranquility” is written.  This is a beautiful reminder to me about my desired state of mind, as well as a reminder of the kindness and love that is in the world.

This gift that was given to me was not just a gift, it was thoughtfulness, it was love, and I get to be reminded of this every time I open a book.

Gifts can be Beautiful

I am so grateful to have so many loving people in my life who so generously have given to me over the years.  It has taken me a long time to realize the beauty of giving and receiving gifts.  I finally understand that giving someone a gift isn’t about fulfilling some greedy, materialistic want that we all unwillingly oblige to.  Gifts are one of many ways to show our love to those that we care for.  And these gifts can be accepted with loving gratitude.  Gift giving and receiving is a beautiful way to share love.

So thank you for all the gift that have been so lovingly given to me in the past, and thank you for those I will receive in the future.  I hope that I have and will gift those I love with things that make their lives better, more fulfilled and maybe even a little more sentimental.

One thought on “The Beauty of Gifts

  1. Joan Strong

    Oh, Julia! I was reading along, thinking how beautifully you were telling the tale of the two mugs, when I scrolled onward, and the tears that had filled my eyes, spilled down over my cheeks. You know how much I value books and reading and how much I value you and your wonderful family. Your thoughts about the bookmark are exactly the message I was trying to send when it was crafted (and given). Thank you for the gift of your friendship and your wonderfully insightful writing.


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