Sunday, December 07, 2008

Winner Gifts for Friends

The November winner of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts is Lois Chapman from Texas. Her copy will be in the mail on Monday. Check out our website or the blog at To order ether The Stained Glass Pickup or the Christmas book, contact me

As usual, send an email to or leave a comment here to be entered into the December drawing.

Friends are the best. What do you gift your friends during the holidays? When I was in elementary school, I had five close friends, and we spent our allowances at the five and dime store on Christmas gifts for each other. My allowance was 25 cents a week, upped to 50 cents by the time I was in junior high. I still have a teddy bear given to me by my childhood friend, Sharon.

Now, instead of holiday gifts, we stay in touch, especially for milestone events in each others’ lives. We even had a slumber party one time and that renewal of friendships was much better than exchanging gifts.

After I married and moved to Montgomery County, I met more friends, who lived in my community. One of them is Doris A. She knows all my weird habits and still loves me. I can confide in her and know that my words will not tie on traveling shoes. Doris knows my everyday schedule and looks out for me. She’s made cornbread dressing for our holiday meal when I was in a bind, babysat my children, and shopped for mother of the bride dresses, and we’ve used up a million miles of telephone wire.

She’s given me Christmas gifts throughout the last three decades, but none are more precious than her acts of kindness, sharing recipes, and offering writing critiques. She’s read all my manuscripts, and I didn’t coerce her, she asked! Our friendship is blessed because we know what is going on in each of our lives, and we know how to stand back or step in to help.

If you really want to bless your friends’ lives this season, think of a unique act of charity that you can do for them. I’m reminded of the seashore scene after Jesus’ resurrection (John 21). Beside the surf, he built a fire and had sea catch roasting, and when his weary fishermen friends returned from a long night at the nets, Jesus said, “Come and have breakfast.” The fresh scent of misty dawn, briny air, and roasting fish drew his friends to a breakfast cooked by God’s own hand, as pleasant as the morning sun he caused to rise.

Author Emilie Barnes tells about a time when one of her friends was very blue and needed an outdoor time of refreshing. An indoor meal just wouldn’t do. Sometimes there’s just too many plastic and artificial things indoor.
Emilie prepared a thermos of hot tea and light refreshments and arranged to drive her friend to a nearby park, where they chatted, sipped tea, and tossed cares to the wind.

Several years ago when I contemplated what I could get my friend Doris for the holidays, nothing came to my mind that quite suited her needs. I could have bought her another cookbook or costume jewelry or a pair of those really furry, warm house-socks, for her barefoot habit. But doodads seemed frivolous that year because she’d been caring for a very ill family member.

That particular Christmas she was pressed for time, like no other, while mine remained peaceful that year. Like most families, her husband and sons, Richard, Jason, Lee and Chris, enjoy pies. She usually baked their favorites for the holidays -- caramel, vanilla custard, pumpkin, and cherry. Early that December, I bought aluminum pie plates, and one day I pulled out my best recipe for pie dough and got busy with the rolling pin and pastry mat.

Within an hour, I had unbaked pie crusts in pans, fluted around the edges, and ready to freeze. A few days later, I phoned Doris and told her I was bringing her Christmas present early. To this day, she says the frozen, ready-to-use pie crusts were the best gift so far.

Whether you have money to buy a gift or not, this year, point the gift of labor at a friend’s need, and you’ll come up with a winner-gift and a winning smile from your friend.

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