Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Handwritten Gifts

"The greatest gift is a portion of thyself."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

This Christmas for the first time, my Spouse and I plan to give personalised, handwritten letters in lieu of Christmas cards. They will be decorated with a number of photos of ourselves, and of the area we live in.
Rest assured, it is not about money. Hardly anybody writes anything nowadays, or so it seems. What better gift to receive during the season than a short, cheery letter that clearly took effort and time to prepare? Aside from a carefully selected few presents for immediate family overseas, we have avoided buying material things and are opting for a hopefully more thoughtful kind of gift.
That is not to suggest that card-buying is wrong: it just does not work for us. I highly value any card that I receive but because I am fond of the mighty pen, it is exciting for me to write my own greetings. The majority of cards available that we have come across are flashy (sometimes flashing!), ostentatious, garish and wholly impersonal. Although I stated that money is not a factor, we do quietly absorb the exorbitant prices if any catch our eye for good or bad reasons.
We are not trying to overemphasise the importance of our own writing but most would agree that such cards or letters are not 'a dime a dozen' and would be appreciated more than a store-bought version.

As a rule, I will never buy an item for someone else that I would not enjoy myself. I buy presents for those people I have something in common with and generally those gifts reflect the relationship. For example, I might send my brother a disc of a favourite and treasured television show that we watched when we were growing up. For my last birthday he sent me a six-disc set of the audio book The Third Policeman, by Flann O' Brien. I had bothered him for the best part of a year until he read the book; that became something we talked about between us. I think that anything we choose must be personal in some way- if not made by our own hands then as an epilogue to a long-running joke or bond between two people.

The gifts for family are already wrapped; one might think we are ahead of time being in November still but the package has yet to be shipped to another country. It will take time to prepare the letters individually for everyone else but I am certain it will be worth it.
For our wedding last year we sent handwritten invitations to each of our guests. It was quite possibly the best decision we made about the entire day: everybody loved the friendly notes. If we can recapture even just a murmur of that spirit this Christmas, we will be exceedingly pleased.

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