I was sitting in my friend’s apartment in Montreal, chatting with the girls about the many bridal showers, baby showers, and other opportunities for gift giving around the corner. It’s not that we weren’t excited for all these upcoming happy occasions, but they were coming seemingly all at once and at such a volume that it was getting difficult to think creatively. One of the girls voiced an idea. “You could make something…”
We mulled this over. We all liked the idea, in theory. But the one nagging thought in my mind was, What if they think I’m cheap?
With the onslaught of gift cards available from shops, theaters, restaurants, and online stores, it has become mandatory to put a price on your gift, down to the cent. Now don’t get me wrong, I love gift cards. But has the pressure to be generous taken some of the value out of generosity?
The other week some friends came to our home here in Ecuador. One of the girls was in tears over something. She didn’t want to talk about it, but what happened was not the point. Not as to how to react, that is. I wanted to give her a gift. A gift that would be simple, homemade, and filled with reassurance and love. The furthest thing from my mind was, Will she think I’m cheap?
I made her a pot of jam. It was simple, easy to make, and very inexpensive. But it was certainly not cheap.
There are many impulses that are better not to act on. An impulse to give, however, should never be ignored. And maybe, if we can manage to take some of the pressure off ourselves to give beyond our means, we will act on it more readily, and more happily.
strawberry jam recipe (makes one gift jar)
ever so slightly adapted from dinner: a love story
2 cups whole strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
juice of one small lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla in a small pot. Bring to a boil, and let the mixture froth and liquids reduce for a few minutes. Remove from heat and wait for it to come to room temperature before jarring (in a lovely clean jar, of course) and refrigerating. It makes a looser, fresher jam, so plan to gift soon and eat sooner!
Give what you can, when you are moved to. Give willingly, give often, and give from your open, generous heart.