At least to me as the giver.
As our children have grown the huge anticipation of the gifts has waned a bit and truthfully we are not a family in NEED of much.
This year I persuaded my family to adopt the following when making their lists:
1. Something I want
2. Something I need
3. Something to wear
4. Something to read
5. Something to light up the world.
And I was so impressed with how they thoughtfully answered. Very grateful for David who sent a link with every item he requested #hightechkid.
My Dad, however, was the one exception.
His list was all about non-tangibles. Time with family, help with his memoirs, suggestions for cooking for retirees etc.
After my initial annoyance at the less than helpful list I saw it as a challenge.
I was going to get that list completed.
My Dad has been slowly writing his memoirs for several years. From his earliest memories in Northern Ontario to his days in the Northern and Southern Cape in South Africa. His school days, university days, the start of his corporate career. His courtship of my Mom, the early days of our family, his move to mission work and all the adventures of that.
His intention is to record this amazing story for his children and grandchildren and those who follow.
He has no intention (yet) of publishing it.
But he did ask for help with the manuscript right?
I started to reach out to publishers, self-publishers, printers and received an education on the literary world, met some lovely, helpful people and with my trusty research assistant Lindsay we found the Espresso Book Printing Machine. Specifically we found one at UVic. Specifically all set up fees were waived for UVic students.
Specifically I was holding true to my Just In Time pattern and it was now two weeks before Christmas.
I hastily enlisted Agent Lesley to steal the manuscript from my Dad's laptop. And then erase any sign she had been there. She is a surprisingly excellent agent and was undetected. She may have a new career option - Lesley SuperCyberSpy.
188 pages arrived. My Dad has many, many skills. Computer skills are rather low on the list. So after a few hours of fixing manually inserted page numbers, font changes, margin changes, inadvertent header/footer issues we had something ready to go.
Lindsay returned to campus to write her final exams and submitted the document with the cover we created for it on the Monday. They said it was possible to get it done by the Friday which was sort of vital seeing as she was coming home on the Saturday.
And lo..... the book was printed. It looks like a real book! Cover page, author bio and even some comments from endorsers!!
I knew the book wasn't completed, I knew there was lots of editing to do and I knew there was no way my Dad would expect to hold his writing, even incomplete, in his hands in printed form.
So I was excited for him to open it on Christmas morning.
At first he thought it was just a book. We give a lot of books in this family at Christmas. Then he started reading the cover (typo's and all) and then he flipped it over to look at the back and saw a photo of himself.......and it dawned on him what he was holding.
Such a surprise! He was tickled. He held it for a long time.
I also gave him all the emails of the people I had spoke with with suggestions of blogs to follow and writers groups to join.
He protesteth much that he is not a writer, that this is not a book waiting to be published..... I beg to differ on both counts. If you have ever been lucky enough to hear him tell a story you know a book full of them would be worth a read. After a good editor has had a go at it and removed the true if potentially libelous naming of names!!!
Whatever happens when he retires and has time to finish it , polish it..... it will be a gift to us, his family, and maybe, just maybe to the world!
And so the gift being given was a gift that gave back to the giver.... you get what I mean right? I read various snippets of my family history, of my own life...So often generosity of time and love, even money ,is returned to us tenfold or more.
I like that!
PS: Lindsay answered his request for time with family by gifting him a photo and a starbucks card for each member of our family for a coffee date and I bought him a cookbook on cooking for 2 and few kitchen gadgets. Ha! We can beat any list!