“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.” ~ Peggy Bracken


watercolour reindeer cupcakes

Watercolour cupcakes in journal.

(Please note: the art in this post has been previously published but the text is entirely new as of today.)

Best gifts are not bought in stores

As I get older, I know that the best gift is that of time spent with loved ones.

When I look back to most memorable times in my life, I don’t think of the gifts I received unless they were something unusual and unique. My mosaic cement butterfly made by my grandchildren would be one such gift.

Every spring, we retrieve the glittering butterfly from the back garage where it has been protected from the harsh winter weather.

During the warm months, it sits near the bird bath where I admire it from the deck.  I think of pudgy little hands adding the many multicoloured pieces of ceramics, and smooth, round glass into the cement.  It is one of my most treasured “gifts”.

Best gifts include family and friends around the dinner table

However, when I think back to different holidays, my mind is flooded with occasions when we were together around the dinner table.

My oldest son celebrated his birthday in his new home not long ago. Linda, my friend from Pennsylvania, was visiting us in Canada, and she joined us at the table where we cooked our food on a raclette. I know this pleasant evening together will be etched in my memory for future reference.

The meal we had at my father’s home earlier that week with Linda and my sister and her family also will remain as a memorable occasion because of the laughter, the shared stories, the feeling of warmth and joy around the dinner table.

I remember a homecoming party for hubby after his month long holiday in Australia. My friends and I had decorated the house and shared a meal together, and heard about this very special trip he had finally, after many decades, managed to check off his bucket list.

Best of all, he had met my virtual friend Sally and her husband Les from Melbourne, and hubby told me how warm and welcoming they were.  He made me regret (just a bit) that I hadn’t gone with him to meet them.

One of the best Mother’s Day gifts was the one when my grown sons prepared all the dishes and brought them to our house so that I could spend time talking with everyone without having to check on food. And they cleaned up too after the meal! Heaven.

And I think back to the many holidays spent with Joanne and Jean-Pierre: Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrated with friends and their children and relatives we have known almost all our lives, whose trials and tribulations, and joys and celebrations have been shared with us, their friends. That too is what the holidays are all about.

Best gifts include learning new skills

After I retired, I started taking watercolour classes. At the time I didn’t know that this was one of the best gifts I could give myself.

There is nothing that I can think of that is more relaxing than being immersed in art work (or whatever your own passion might be). Even when the art doesn’t turn out to my liking, there are always moments where the outside world is forgotten while painting. The mind and body relax and concentrate on the brush strokes on paper or canvas, in the swirls of paint, in the surprises that happen along the way.

Below, Christmas themed pages painted in Strathmore Mixed Media Visual Journal. Some of the pages were assignments for a 2014 online watercolour class, one of the first classes I followed online,  by Jane Lafazio. 



Christmas nutcracker in sketchbook
watercolour santa in sketchbook
watercolour sugar cookies


Best gift is giving a handmade item to someone who appreciates it

Finally, the angel in the header and below is the first gift I sent out to a blog subscriber.

After receiving it, she sent me this photo of the angel in her Christmas tree. The subscriber also wrote to me about the wonderful reaction her granddaughter had when she saw the angel in the tree.

The best gifts are definitely not store bought!

What gifts do you remember? The birth of a little one in the family? Better health after a long struggle with a dreaded disease? Memorabilia passed along through generations? A holiday spent with family?

I would love to read about your special gifts.


angel giveaway

6 Responses

    • You are most welcome Jane. I look forward to seeing more of your art in the new year…and more of your yoga poses in exotic locales! Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2018.

  • Making new friends (although virtual) like you, Louise! That’s what I count among my best gifts! And only now I’ve discovered your blog–until today you were only a sister painter in Jane Lafazio’s Facebook group. And now that I know you have a blog, I will be able to keep in closer contact! Merry Christmas 2017, and may all your gifts be meaningful!

    • Mary Lou…what a nice way to end my day! I look forward to getting to “know” you in 2018. I don’t sketch very much anymore as most of my time is spent trying to perfect my portraits. But I do appreciate seeing all the beautiful sketches you and others are posting on Jane’s facebook alumni page. Thank you for taking the time to leave me a message. Merry Christmas and I wish you and yours all the best for 2018. Cheers!

  • Happy Christmas and Joyeux Noel to all of your blog followers. It has been an interesting journey which I am sure everyone has enjoyed. May 2016 be filled with many more ????????

I’d love to hear what you have to say...