Category Archives: Gifts

Why Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

People have all sorts of reactions when Valentine’s Day comes around – some think it’s too commercialized, and others get hurt if they don’t get the traditional flowers or candy or card.  Still others don’t think it should be observed at all.  I think it’s time to recall the important reasons to celebrate:

Video: Why Celebrate Valentine's Day

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Presents from the Heart

This week, families are gathering to celebrate the holidays, and of course, gift-giving is a long-standing tradition at this time of year.  This year, I decided to make most of my gifts, and I decided to share with you my knitting “workshop” as well as some of my thoughts about how we bond with family and friends through giving.

Video: Presents from the Heart

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Making It Personal for the Holidays

My husband and I were very disappointed when we learned that we could not be with our military son on Thanksgiving.  We casually mentioned to some friends that we were just going to have scrambled eggs and bagels for Thanksgiving dinner, because without him there, it just wasn’t going to be worth the effort.  Well, they kindly invited us to spend Thanksgiving with their family, and we accepted. 

I wanted to do something nice for them to really show them thanks for such a lovely gesture, so I knitted a seven-foot runner for their table.  When it was finished, it seemed so “plain,” that I spent four hours crocheting around the entire runner twice and added a fringe to the ends.  When I gave it to her, she held it close to her chest near her heart, and her eyes teared up as she expressed her emotion for my putting in that amount of effort for her.  I have to tell you that I’ve never felt so moved by a reaction to a gift in my life.

She and her husband were doing something “personal” for me, and I wanted to return the favor.  Having Thanksgiving with their adult children and a couple who were mutual friends made for a fabulous evening, with lots of laughs and a yummy turkey….mmmm.

So, I’ve stopped buying bottles of wine and chocolate-filled baskets.  I’ve been working around the clock for weeks either knitting, weaving, or sewing Christmas presents.  I finished my last project for my “peeps” on Sunday (our office holiday party was on Tuesday), so I had a bit of a crunch for time.  While it was exhausting and sometimes frustrating when equipment has a mind of its own, I feel giddy about giving gifts that are so much of myself.  Clearly, it means more to the receiver AND the giver.

To top it off, a few of my dearest friends sent me “Thanksgiving” e-mails, enumerating the reasons they felt grateful for having me in their lives.  It blew my mind.  It is incredibly touching to know that you matter to someone.

I’m writing these stories to urge you all to do the same this Christmas.  Don’t buy a card – write to that person and let them know why they matter to you and what you appreciate about them and how you feel grateful for them.  Instead of purchasing something generally useless that they might never use and will not cause them to reflect on your relationship, make something or do something.  For example:  plant some flowers on either side of their front door; make a rocking chair for the back porch; fix something on their property; take their kids for the night so they can have a romantic time to themselves….the list of possibilities is endless.

Make it personal, and that doesn’t require ridiculous expenditures for gifts that ultimately don’t matter. 

Oh, and one more thing.  We will see our kidlet for Christmas.  The tree is already up.

Give Your Children The Best Gift of All – YOU

We live in a time where millions of children spend all day away from their families in facilities that have big screen TVs to amuse them, and they have caregivers for whom English is not required.  This is also the time when parents buy ever-increasing numbers of electronic gizmos to occupy their children’s time – sometimes to “make them smarter,” or to “make them buzz off,” so that busy, busy parents can have some “well-earned down time.”

Whether its TV, computer games, or hand-held devices, more and more parents are inundating even babies with all of this mass-produced “input.”  A recent study reported that about 40% of families with babies and young children keep the television on at all times.  “Always on” TV damages the children’s ability to play imaginatively and to develop language skills.  Obviously, it reduces the number of nurturing interactions between parents and children, too. Continue reading

Don’t Buy Your Kids Toys from China This Season

As we head into Thanksgiving, and the beginning of the biggest shopping season of the year, it’s time to take a stand regarding the kind of toys we buy our kids.  Case in point:

1. Mattell, Inc. recalled 675,000 Barbie® Accessory toys because the paint on the surface of the accessories contained excessive levels of lead.  Lead can cause learning and behavior problems and even death.

2. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled roughly 4 million arts and crafts toys called Aqua Dots because several children in the United States and Australia were hospitalized after swallowing some of the toy’s beads.  The beads had a chemical coating that evidently was related to GHB, the “date rape” drug.

3. An additional 175,000 Curious George plush dolls made by Marvel Toys were recalled because of lead on the toys’ plastic faces.

This past summer, the toy industry recalled more than 22 million toys because of serious danger issues.  The common denominator seems to be that all these toys are made in China.  China is the world’s number one producer of toys, due to cheap labor and manufacturing costs.  While the world’s governments lazily deal with tougher controls to intercept dangerous toys before they hurt our children, how about we parents taking control and only purchasing toys made in the U.S.A. this holiday season?  We should be supporting our own economy anyway.

If you don’t know how to find toys made in the USA, here’s a start – a parent single-handedly took up the charge and created a website that links to USA-made toys.

If you want detailed information on toys that have been recalled by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, you can find a list of all the latest recalls at