Real Gifts

I struggle with holiday gift giving. I know we all do, but I think I struggle with it more than most. My ex would probably agree with that statement. One year, when we were together, we had a tense, tear filled (me) argument about the subject. We somehow came to an agreement, and had a laugh about it later when he gave me a card that said he was still happy to be with me at Christmas even though I “took the wind out of his giving sails”.

I guess each year my thoughts and feelings about it evolve a little more, and this year is the easiest it’s been in a long time. I hate all the hype and the pressure and the excess, and so I simply opted to approach it all in my own way. Gifts, to me, are just tokens of love, not the love itself. So I just tried to think hard about what the few people I was buying for would enjoy, and left it at that.

Cracking Up

For my four year old nephew I picked out the book “Falling Up” by Shel Silverstein. I didn’t actually have any of Silverstein’s books when I was a child, but was introduced to his poetry when I was a nanny in my teenage years. I loved reading his silly, imaginative verses. His poems inspired giggles and gross outs in the kids, and always left us smiling.

My nephew is as silly as a 4 year old gets, but has the added edge of having two hilarious parents. My little brother, his dad, is one of the funniest and most ridiculous people I know. My siblings (all 7 of them), and I were blessed with great senses of humor, largely due to our father’s influence. That man was constantly pleasing us with funny faces, great jokes, and a willingness to laugh in any and every moment. We lost him 11 years ago, but his sense of humor, a combo of dark and silly, is with us always. I think of him most at Christmastime, as he had an off-the-charts love of decorating.

Every time I see one of those big, inflatable lawn decorations I am thankful that he passed away before they were available, because he surely would have fastened one to the roof of our house, or filled the yard with them. (A joke, of course, but one I know he would have loved and laughed hard at.)

When I went to write an inscription in “Falling Up” for my nephew, I decided it would be more fun to pen him a little Silverstein-inspired poem instead. This felt like the best kind of gift giving, as it was spontaneous, and truly from my heart. In a way, it’s actually a gift from his late grandfather too, as he lives on in every moment we get our nephew smiling or squealing with laughter. 

Here’s the poem:

I know it’s no shiny electric cool train,
but I want you to use all the parts of your brain
This book is quite silly, it’s funny and crass
And no matter my age, it still makes me laugh
I hope you’ll enjoy it through-out your youth
and that it still makes you giggle when you’re long in the tooth
Because what’s most important is finding a way
To still laugh at nonsense when life goes astray
Someday you’ll get what I’m speaking of

and will see that this book was given with love


Merry Christmas to all of you too! And keep laughing, and eating through it.

More Food, Less Pain,