Gifts from the Heart

Gifts from the Heart

by Susan Neuhalfen

So often we find ourselves trudging through malls looking for the “perfect” gift when the best gifts aren’t really gifts at all; they are memories. They are that time your friend made you laugh until you spit your drink all over the table at the ice cream parlor. They are the fun you had building a sandcastle at the beach with your kids. They are the band that you and your husband saw one night in concert.

The next time you have to buy a present for a friend or family member, consider a gift that can’t be duplicated by anyone else. It’s a memory you share with that person. Here are some ideas from readers as to how to give a gift that will be cherished for a lifetime:

Letter book: When my husband and I were still dating, I wrote to ten important people in his life, asking them to write him a letter. I sent the request with a self-addressed stamped envelope and, to my surprise, only had two no-shows. I placed the letters in an album, complete with pictures of my husband with those people throughout his life. To this day, he pulls out that album and reads the letters.

Vintage Pictures: My mom had a box full of old pictures that were barely surviving the Texas heat. I took a few of them and had them restored and then framed for her. You’d thought I’d bought her a new car she was so happy.

Shadow Box: My friend and I went to Jones Beach to see the B-52s in concert. I put together a shadowbox with a vial of sand, the ticket stub and a picture of us at the concert. She still has it displayed proudly in her house, despite our out-of-date bi-level haircuts.

8MM Film to DVD: After my mother died, my dad found 8MM film stored away and took them to have them transferred to DVD. The result was getting to see my mother again, on films I didn’t remember. The best part was seeing how much my son looked like my five year-old self.

Engraved pie plate: I gave my sister a pie plate that had our mother’s recipe for apple pie, in her handwriting, engraved into the plate. That way she can’t lose the recipe and the familiar handwriting always reminds us of our mother.

Music video: Instead of buying my husband another power tool for our wedding anniversary, I made a music video using our wedding song and put together pictures of us over the years. I catch my husband watching it sometimes.

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