My mother wore a wedding band for more than 20 years. So when she and my father divorced, she felt strange not having a ring on her finger. That year, for Christmas, my sister and I teamed up to buy her a “mother’s ring,” which was set with our mom’s birthstone as well as ours. When we gave it to her, she cried. She still wears it daily.
Several years ago, when money was particularly tight, my husband and I agreed to spend no more than $10 on holiday presents for each other. I bought a box and filled it with dozens of slips of paper, each one detailing something I love about him. (“You are firm in your convictions.” “You put up with me when I’m cranky or hungry or both.”) He still displays it in his office.
One day when I was munching on a piece of seafoam chocolate (an old-fashioned, airy confection), my mother-in-law mentioned that her late father used to give her a piece of that candy every Christmas. Months later, I remembered her comment and wrapped up a piece for her. When she opened it on Christmas, she was speechless. The gift deepened our bond.
I recorded 30 of my favorite recipes onto an audio cassette so my mother, who suffered from macular degeneration, could try them. I included everything from chicken Marsala to cakes and cookies. She used it until her death, a decade later.
Karen J. Ostby
My husband is a bit of an aviation nerd. At home, he listens to air-traffic control through the website liveatc.net, and when we fly, he rattles off facts about the plane we’re on. For his 30th birthday, I scheduled a two-hour flying lesson so that he could finally take a turn in the pilot’s seat. My husband was gleeful afterward and called friends to tell them that he had just flown a plane. His delight made it a present for me, too.
I’m a college student, which means that I’m perpetually broke. So last year, instead of buying gifts for my family, I used burlap, red yarn, ribbons, and bells to make personalized Christmas stockings. I love that we’ll use them year after year.