Free gifts may be the most memorable.

This post has been previously published when I first started a watercolour journal in 2015. (Updated November 2023.)

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

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 hanging out together, these are all choice moments for creating memories together. Making memories together, shared experiences are the gifts I now prefer.

watercolour reindeer cupcakes

Watercolour cupcakes in journal. These decorated cupcakes remind me of the many cookies and squares I made with my boys when they were young: Crinkle Chocolate Cookies, Gingerbread, Shortbread, butter tarts, and fudge, (for the chocoholic me),  just to name a few…

Best gifts are not bought in stores

mosaic butterfly ornament handmade with love
Mosaic butterfly ornament, a precious keepsake made from little hands.

My mosaic cement butterfly made by my grandchildren would be one such gift that was made with little hands.

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. This year, I joined a community choir. This activity continues to be challenging but I am having fun meeting new people and accepting help when I need it. I know my singing won’t be perfect but that isn’t the goal.

Kurt Vonnegut (American author) writes about an archeologist who once told him: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.”

Brilliant isn’t it? We don’t always need to be achievement-oriented. We need to put fun back into our lives while giving new experiences a chance.

Online class helped me get started on my artistic journey .

Over the years, I have taken many courses and all have helped me evolve as an artist.

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

10 Responses

  • The trouble is when you make some cards ( in my case) one year, they become expected and other members of the family also want one as well – so you then have an annual task which can be ok if you have the time. Though, now, my quota of cards has diminished somewhat.
    Also. Louise, you seem to have lost the like button.

    • I printed cards with my art on them last year and for fun, made a few cards with animal caricatures which I didn’t give away. I will add a few more this year but they are very time consuming so I will send those only to special people.

      I know about having lost the like button. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to fix it. I suspect it is related somehow to jet pack on WordPress. Thank you for letting me know. I hope to find the the glitch soon!

    • 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 ????????

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