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Eight Gifts That Do Not Cost a Cent

 

Well, I for one am glad that Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and much of the Christmas shopping days are behind us. Of course there is still last minute Christmas shoping to get through.  

I have never desired to be a part of all the crowds and cheap merchandise they put out for Christmas. Quite frankly, I don’t see the appeal of being first in line and then being nearly trampled to death to get an inferior product.

My Game Plan

Here’s my game plan. No matter the time of year, when I see something I think a relative or friend might like, I buy it right then and there. Too often if I wait the item is not there when I go back to the store.

Then I place the item on a shelf in a closet that holds several other gifts waiting to be given. Then when the next gift-giving occasion comes,  birthday, anniversary, Christmas, I just go to my closet and get out the gift and wrap it.

By the time Christmas comes I generally have about half of the gifts I will give  already in the closet. So much simplier. It is that KISS Principal thingie again. Keep it simple sweetie!!! I swear by KISS.

Now I am not talking about being so simple that we go back and live in caves or anything. I am really not a cave type person. I don’t even want to go back  back one-hundred or two-hundred years ago. I think we romanticize those bygone eras just way too much. Personally I like modern conveniences. They are a blessing.

Putting People Not Things First

No. When I say “simple living” I mean a quality of thought; a quality of mind; a way of thinking; even a way of doing and behaving. I am talking about getting back to basics and putting people, not things,  first. 

And don’t get me wrong. I like nice presents too. Yet when I reflect on years gone by, the things I remember and treasure the most are those intangible gifts where someone touched my heart, or where I touched a freind’s heart. I am talking about gifts of sharing, of friendship; a gift expressing concern and love.

I am not suggesting that we give up buying and giving material gifts. It is a wonderful tradition. And traditions are important, especially in uncertain times like these.

I just happen to think that we can do both.

With that thought in mind I am sharing with you eight gifts that do not cost one cent, but are worth millions.

1. The gift of listening

Nothing else.  Just listening.

No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response. Just listening, keeping in mind that the key to being a good listener and friend is simple validation. That is, listening without judgment, correction, or advice.

2. The gift of affection

Be generous with appropriate compliments, hugs, kisses, pats on the back, and hand holds. Let your actions speak your love for friends and families. These gifts are the foundation that shore up your words.

3. The gift of laughter

Clip cartoons and jokes; share articles and funny stories; forward funnyemails to the friends and family. Some e-mail forwards I have received hundreds of times. But they make me laugh every time because a friend took the time to send it; and took the time to say, “I am thinking of you.” This gift says, “I love to laugh with you.”

A high compliment indeed.

4. The gift of a hand-written note

It can be as simple as a, “Thanks for the help,” note or a poem or sonnet copied in your own hand. A short, hand-written note may be remembered for a lifetime. A handwritten note, even more than an email, tells and shows the recipient they are worth it.

5. The gift of a compliment

A simple and sincere, “You look so wonderful in red,” or “You did a super job,” or “That was a delicious meal,” can make someone’s day in ways you may never know.

This gift always reminds me of a story in the very first Chicken Soup for the Soul series. A 3rd grade teacher felt bad after disciplining a particularly talkative child in class. She decided to try and be more positive.

So the next day she had every student write down one thing they liked, a compliment if you will,  about each child in the class. She then compiled the list of all the compliments by student name and gave each child a written list of their compliment  list.

Many years later the child who had been disciplined that day was killed in Vietnam. In the pocket of his uniform that day they found that compliment list his teacher had given him years before. At the funeral the teacher learned this and discovered that many students had saved their lists of compliments. You can read the entire story, All the Good Things, by clicking the link. Warning: tissues may be needed.

The gift of a compliment is powerful stuff indeed! Give them freely.

6. The gift of a favor

Every day try to find some way to do something kind for someone else whether family, friend, neighbor, or stranger.

7. The gift of solitude

There are times when we want nothing more than to be left alone. Be sensitive to those needs in others and give space to those who just need some time to recharge.

8. The gift of a cheerful disposition

One of the best ways in the world to feel good is to extend a smile or a kind word to someone else. Really, it is not that hard to say, “Hello,” or “Thank you,” to folks we chance upon at the bank or the grocery store.

These eight simple human gifts can be given everyday all year long and are a much needed antidote to the ever increasingly mechanized and seemingly impersonal world we live in. 

I like to write up a card or note saying what I am giving the recipient. For instance: “Next year I give you 3 days of my time for any chores or errands you need done. Love, Roberta.” Like any gift I  put the “gift” card in a box. Then I wrap it up with a nice big bow just like a regular gift.

And oh! By the way, I like what you are wearing today. That color looks so great on you!!

Happy Holidays my friends. Thank you for droping by More Thyme. I appreciate you more than these mere words can convey.

Featured Recipe    Cherry Coconut Drop Cookies

I do not bake. It’s not that I can’t. I can. It is just that I don’t. Anymore. Used to bake far more than I do now.

It is just that baking recipes are essentially chemical formulas. The exact proportion of ingredients must be used or the baked good will not turn out well at all. Trying to cut down a cookie or cake recipe for one or two is difficult.

So I don’t bake as much as I used to.

I can cut down a regular food recipe I see in a magazine without batting an eyelash. I can do it in my head. Plus it doesn’t matter if I get the ingredients in exactly the right proportion or not.

Most cookie or cake recipes make oodles and oodles of sweets. I really don’t need that much temptation in my house. If it was here I would eat it cause I have a sweet tooth that won’t quit.  If I baked I would eat all I baked and then I would balloon up to a weight I would not like.

However, this cookie recipe is about as easy as it gets and only makes about two dozens cookies. I can live with that. It is a Better Homes & Garden recipe I found in a magazine years ago.

This is what you will need:

7-ounce package (2 2/3 cups) flaked coconut

2 tablespoons cornstarch

½ cup sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup chopped red and/or green candied cherries

You will also need some shortening and flour.

Here is what you do:

Grease and flour a cookie sheet; set aside. As you can see when it comes to greasing and flouring a cookie sheet, Martha Stewart I am not. But except for you, no one else knows that. It’s our little secret. Right?

Plus, this skill level is consistent with someone who flunked scissor cutting in the 5th grade.

 In a medium mixing bowl combine coconut and cornstarch.

Add the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla ………  

…………..and stir until mixture is combined.

Stir in the chopped candied cherries.

NOTE: Since I am using both red and green cherries and want cookies with only one color or the other, I divided the mixture in half (Or there about. Please be kind. I am both scissor and math challenged.) and added red cherries to one half and the green cheeries to the other.

Drop by small rounded teaspoonfuls about 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake in a 325 degree  oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned on bottoms. Do not over bake. The cookies may look soft, like they are not done. But 12-15 is ceratinly enough time to bake. Take them out of the oven or they may burn and gettoo hard.

Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 24 cookies.

NOTE: I got 21 cookies.

Bon appétit!!!

Cost

7-ounces flaked coconut                             $1.22              

2 tablespoons cornstarch                            $0.10

½ cup sweetened condensed milk               $1.16

1 teaspoon vanilla                                      $0.30

½ cup chopped candied cherries                 $2.50

Total cost = $5.28
Cost per cookie = $0.25*

* Cost figured on the 21 cookies I actually got from the recipe.

Quote of the Day

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Theodore Roosevelt

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