Posts Tagged ‘Christmas gifts’

Before Christmas, our younger daughter and I enjoyed her tasty gift of afternoon tea at Russian Tea Time.  Sunday night, my husband and I enjoyed watching the Chicago Blackhawks live at the United Center, courtesy of our older daughter and one of my s-i-l’s, a gift that comes at literal high cost.  Tickets are available only on the secondary market, often at twice the face value.  How people can afford to take a family is beyond me.

© janet m. webb 2017


When Christmas comes, we’re blessed in that we don’t need anything, sometimes even having trouble thinking of things we’d like, and certainly don’t need more “stuff.”  But both our girls came up trumps this year with the gift of experiences.

Our younger daughter had me pencil in a date weeks in advance for a gift shrouded in mystery and we caught an early afternoon train into Chicago a few days before Christmas, the gift still unknown.  When we got into our Uber car, she told the driver not to mention the location, as it was a surprise.  Rounding a corner near the Chicago Art Institute, I saw the sign for the Russian Tea Time restaurant, a place I’d never been. Was that it?? Hurrah!  Our 2:30 pm reservation was for afternoon tea.

The restaurant was the dream of Klara Muchnik, born and raised in Ukraine. In 1967, Klara moved to Tashkent, Uzbekistan but in 1990, she and her family moved to Chicago in search of a better life.  This restaurant was the delicious result.

We chose the “house tea”, a Darjeeling Black Current blend served in beautiful cups.

© janet m. webb 2016


‘Tis the season of giving and getting and I have a few thoughts on on those two topics that I’d like to share.  The first is that our family is very blessed, as are many in this country.  All our “needs” are met and everything we say we’d like for Christmas is a “want” or “would like.”  That in itself is a huge gift!

Secondly, one of my favorite parts of this season is giving.  But giving doesn’t have to be costly.  Our church is sponsoring Advent Wednesday service event, rather than a church service.  There are so many places the need volunteers, not just at the holidays when they usually get attention, but year-round.  There are people who could use a meal, a ride, baby sitting, handyman/woman help, etc.  These free or inexpensive gifts are often the most appreciated.  College students might appreciate the gift of rolls of quarters for laundry or a monthly care package.

Friends and family often appreciate the gift of time.  Our younger daughter’s Christmas list included a “women’s day” with me and I’m enjoying planning that.  There are so many ways to give the gift of time and in this busy society, time is a precious commodity.  The gift of something homemade is a gift of time as well.  If someone gives you the gift of time, appreciate it!

My parents, who are in their mid-eighties and who have all they need, always enjoy our gift of my week-long January trip.  That’s the perfect gift for all three of us, as they live in Arizona.  🙂 The break from the cold of northern Illinois and the fun of seeing them as well as exploring the Southwest is a joy for me, too.

Who says a gift has to be something you don’t need?  At one point in our lives, I wanted a new vacuum and my husband gave me one.  One of my personal training clients didn’t consider that a good Christmas gift.  Trust me.   Something I use often and that we need was a good gift and of course my husband did buy me some other things.  But why spend a lot of money on things you don’t need and then still have to spend money for a necessity?

I don’t think a gift has to be new.  Thrift stores offer all sorts of wonderful choices.  Be sure you know whether or not the recipient would be offended if s/he found out where you got the gift.  I would applaud you for giving me something I can use AND saving money.

It goes without saying that gifts don’t have to be expensive.  Gift-giving shouldn’t put you in debt and you shouldn’t feel you have to match prices with people who can afford to give you expensive gifts.  Give what you can afford from your heart.  If someone has a problem with that, it’s their problem, not yours.

Calendars that feature photos of family can be done inexpensively, but have the impact of an expensive gift and bring daily happiness.   A certificate for something to be done later might be perfect.  A card telling someone you’ll send them a letter or card every week/month would be an unusual and loving gift.  An offer to cook a dinner once a month (or whenever) would be much appreciated.

What do you think about Christmas (or other holiday) gifts?  What creative ideas do you have for gifts that aren’t expensive?  Did you ever get an especially loved gift or have an especially bad gift experience you want to share/

I do love Christmas and love trying to find the perfect gift to show the recipient how much I love and cherish him or her!!


Having a difficult time figuring out what to get that person that has everything?  Having a hard time coming up with a list for yourself because you have everything you need?  Consider something different.  Consider giving a child a bike in the name of that person-with-everything and then send your friend a card telling him/her what you did.  It will be the best gift s/he receives.  Of course, you can give one from you or from you and your family as well.  It’s a great way to show the true spirit of Christmas giving to your children.

A year ago, my husband took his love of bicycling to a new, more inclusive level.  He decided he’d like to give at least two new bicycles per Christmas to children whose parents couldn’t afford to buy them.  We started a small charity, 2Wheels2Kids and encouraged people to buy a bike and give it to a child in their city, then send us a photo of the child with the bike so Bill could post the photo on the blog.  We also said that if people preferred sending us money, we’d use it to buy bikes and gift them here.

In 2013, we gifted two bikes to two boys here.  (You can see photos on the blog.)  We also sent money to two women to buy bikes for their children.  We were sent donations by two people to help with this–one with enough to buy a bike plus a helmet.

This year, we’ve ordered two bikes already, since we have two names.  The same wonderful woman who donated enough for a bike and helmet last year did the same this year.  We may be getting another name and if so, we’ll get another bike.

It’s impossible to adequately describe the joy we saw in the two boys to whom we presented bikes as well as that of their parents.  We invite you to participate if you’d like to do so or if you can.  Look in your area–churches are a great place to start, as they often know who is a single parent or not well-off.  If you give a bike, send us a photo and we’ll put in on the 2Wheels2Kids website.  Not only will you have given a gift that makes a child happy, you’ll have given one to yourself as well.

If you would like to donate a small amount or if you’d like to buy a bike but don’t want to do it where you live, you may send a check to us at the address on the 2Wheels website.  If we don’t have enough for another bike or can’t find another child this year, we will put the money in a special account and use it next year.  We don’t have charity status, so you can’t claim a charitable contribution.  One of these years…