Guest Blog Post from Sarah Krosschell
Tis’ the season to be thinking about gift giving...and what better gift to give someone than the gift of your writing?
You might be thinking that your family and friends don’t want your writing as a gift, but I’m not talking about giving them a story or a book that you would market to the masses. I’m talking about using your writing talents to give them something personalized. Our society is largely moving towards electronic communication, and that’s fine... but I still value a handwritten note far more than an email any day. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets excited when I open the mailbox and see a card that has my name handwritten on it. (It’s not a bill- yay!!)
I can think of many cards, letters, and notes that I still have and keep to this day. I pull them out every so often, reread them, and enjoy the memories. I have cards that my husband gave me when we were busy falling in love. I have cards from my dad that he used to send me when I was at summer camp, which are made even more special because he is no longer here with us...but those cards feel like a little tiny piece of him that got left behind.
I think there’s something to be said about having the written word down on paper. If you put letters in front of me written by close family and friends, I could identify all of their handwriting styles. Even your handwriting style is a gift that you can give to someone.
So, if you’re thinking about someone special this holiday season and you don’t know what to give them, consider the suggestions below.
This is going to seem very basic, but a beautiful card with a heartfelt message is still one of my favorite gifts to receive. If the card is for a friend, tell them why you value their friendship. If it’s for a family member, recall one of your favorite family memories for them and tell the story.
This gift takes a little more forethought, but write down on little strips of paper things that you love and appreciate about a person. Put these in a decorative jar or vase. Add some ribbon or embellishment to the outside, maybe some candy on the inside...and give it to them and let them know that whenever they need a little boost, they can pull out a slip and read the note.
Put together a photo album or a photo book, but make sure to add captions and/or funny stories to go along with the photos. A picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes a few words below the picture can make it magic too. When I saw my dog’s picture on a rescue web site, with the caption “I will love you more than you can imagine”- I was sold. Consider that dog adopted!!
If you’re feeling less creative, there are journals that you can purchase where you answer questions about a person. The ones that I’ve seen normally tend to be for significant others, but that doesn’t mean others aren’t out there. Simply fill in the journal with your responses, and there you have it; a personalized written gift from yourself.
If you have children, write them a note that lists all the reasons you love them and why you love spending time with them. Parents often tell children these things, but having it on paper is special and something to be saved.
Want to give your child’s teacher a gift but your holiday budget is already worn thin? As a teacher myself, one of my favorite gifts to receive is a letter, card, or even email that lets me know why I’m appreciated by the child and/or the family. Take this one step further by helping your child write an acrostic poem for the teacher, picking out one special characteristic or admirable trait for each letter of their name. Add a little color to this visual masterpiece and this will surely make for a memorable gift.
If you are a writer and are musically inclined, you could take a favorite song and rewrite the lyrics to flatter a lover or shower a special person with affection. If you are brave (braver than me!) you could also sing/record/perform this for the recipient.
Writing a poem and framing it is the perfect gift for someone with a desk job. Place the poem in one half of a folding double photo frame, and a photograph in the other. Then, each time your special person sits down at their desk, they will be in close proximity to your warm thoughts and sentimental present. (Much better than that sweater you gave last year that only makes one annual appearance!!)
One of the ways I have given the gift of writing to my husband is through something I started just after we got married. I wanted to do something unique for my husband on our first anniversary, so I wrote a book for him that I simply called “The Story of Us.” On our first anniversary, I gave him this book. It had a prologue, where I wrote about how we met and fell in love. The first chapter talked about our dating years, and led up to our wedding. Each chapter after that recounted the year we’d had together, talking about family events and personal accomplishments. My husband looks forward to getting his new chapter each year. Oftentimes, he sits down and reads the whole thing from the beginning to where we’re at now. (He may have to skim soon, as we’ll be celebrating our 10 year anniversary tomorrow and the book is growing in length.)
Words have power, and you have the power to leave a loved one or friend with a special memory. Choose to give the gift of your writing this season!
Sarah Krosschell is a teacher, mom, and writer. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, three kids, and her dog. She is currently working on a young adult novel, and she really enjoys working with other writers. If you would like to work with Sarah, check out her revising and editing business at www.sarahkrosschell.com.