Free gifts may be the most memorable.

This post has been previously published when I first started a watercolour journal in 2015. The text is edited in 2021.

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

Now that we are all very much plugged into social media, how many of us can truly leave the phone or tablet in another room, hidden away, and give our full attention to friends and family?

With exactly one month left before Christmas, spending quality time with loved ones is the best gift of all.  Whether it is in wrapping gifts, baking, decorating, or even just doing nothing except conversing, these are all choice moments for creating memories together.


watercolour reindeer cupcakes

Watercolour cupcakes in journal. So many different cookies have been made with my family around me during the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Best gifts are not bought in stores

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 the best times, my mind is flooded with occasions when we were together… and how meaningful those moments have become as time passes by…

Some of my best memories include:

  • Celebrating a son’s birthday in his new home with my friend from Pennsylvania, visiting us in Canada.  Even though she didn’t understand a word of French, I acted as translator and the food was secondary to the conversation.
  • Celebrating a homecoming after hubby spent a month in Australia. Friends gathered in our home which was decorated for the occasion. Australian wines  flowed as we listened to all the stories hubby recounted of his travels in a different country so far away. It was a checkmark added to his bucket list of dream places to visit.  While he was in Melbourne, he met my virtual friends who welcomed him warmly.  (Thankfully, I was able to meet Sally and Les in person in Vancouver BC in 2019 and we travelled together to Seattle WA.)
  • A Mother’s Day gathering where my grown sons prepared all the dishes and brought them to our house so that we could talk rather than cook.  They cleaned up afterwards too.
  • The time I have been gifted with my grandchildren baking, painting, biking, crafting, travelling, visiting friends…

Best gifts include learning new skills

Perhaps one of the best gifts we can give ourselves, is the gift of learning something new, opening our minds to different possibilities.

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 (header and in the very last photo below) is the first gift I sent out to a blog subscriber.

Over the years, I have given to friends and family and subscribers some of the gifts that I make including portraits of their grandchildren, pets, and mixed media sketches of health care workers at CHEO.

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...