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Inklings: Great gifts

  • Thursday, August 11, 2011

Our kids give the most insightful gifts. They seem to zero in on what would be “just right” for us. They did not, alas, get this trait from me. I occasionally come across a “find” or get an inspiration. Mostly I bump along and come up with gift certificates.
These thoughts took flight the other day as I gazed out the kitchen window to one of our all time favorite presents. Our son David was still in the Air Force, stationed in North Dakota and coming home for the holidays. When we got his baggage at the airport it included a huge, thin cardboard box in the shape of a door.
It turned out to be a garden gate that he had made from rebar. It featured the initial “H” surrounded by floral buds. He had helped his dad build the garden’s basket weave brick wall and had measured the columns. David, an architect, then designed and made the gate. I get to see it every day from my window and Jim and I walk through it every evening as we dally by the pool.
Mary Claire’s gifts are often musical, as that is her profession. But one of her most memorable was utilitarian and wonderful. It was a red collapsible basket tote with a frame and strong handles. I bet I use this thing every day. We have a two-story house and it often sits at the foot or top of the stairs to hold things that are needed on the other floor.
It’s also wonderful in the car. If I’m going out to a meeting or to do interviews, it holds my purse, file folders, clipboards and any other equipment I need. It’s great on trips to put things in you want to get your hands on right away – like snacks, or a book or musical CDs.
Mary Claire’s twin, our special son Jimmy. Presented us with a piece of art in 1973 when he was by six. He was in a sheltered workshop and his brave teacher turned him loose with tubes of brightly colored paint and a white plastic dinner plate. The result is his only creative piece, his interpretation of an avant-garde design with splashes of red, green, blue and yellow. The instructors dated the plate and helped him print his name in wobbly letters. It’s been hanging in a place of pride at the top of our family mementoes wall for 38 years.
And then there is Cathy, who displays flair in everything she does – decorating, cooking or clothing selections. We have gotten exotic wine, unique jewelry or an unusual décor item from her over the years. One of her last gifts and one of the simplest is one of my favorite: paper napkins. Where she finds these things I’ll never know. I usually get mine, plain or patterned from the grocery store. This set, which has silky soft cocktail napkins as well as the larger ones that could be used as hand towels, features a bouquet centered with orchids – one of her favorite flowers – and one of her favorite gifts. The flowers are set on a wild animal design.
Now I just have to be able to conjure up enough flair to use them.

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