Each year, our boys and I scout the local merchants seeking just the right item for their mother’s and grandmother’s birthday and Christmas gifts. With the passage of time, we have seen thoughtful, almost obsessive, attention to the task – while other years required considerable effort on my part to remind them of the joy of giving. One year found us at an establishment that carried a stunning array of perfumed candles. Excited that we’d arrived at the point that our kids were taking notice of their mother’s interests (previous years they’d suggested that Mom might like toys – if she didn’t, they would happily play with them for her), we indulged in an hour sampling each scent from lavender to theater popcorn (the ultimate choices). Without missing a beat, these wise women rewarded the effort made by the fledgling gift-givers. The gift of time, and caring, was far more important than the meager present.
While we may respect and admire the dedication of thoughtful givers, life has squeezed time to the point that we are most likely to stockpile a go-to present for dinner party hosts and business colleagues. It has to be something tasteful, to be sure. It should also represent the things that connect us – not those that divide. Ideally, this universal donor of gifts might remind the receiver time and again of the friend who shared it. I’ve found such a gift in the Indiana Humanities publication “Food for Thought: An Indiana Harvest.” It tells the story of individual people and their personal connection with food. It inspires those who read it to consider and share their own stories. How could a book do more? And if you invite me over for dinner you might get a copy! Easier still, order one of your own.