LIFE’S BIG MOMENTS
GIFTS FOR EVERY OCCASION
Acclaimed songwriter and rocker Stevie Nicks wrote Fleetwood Mac’s classic “Landslide” in 1974 when she was 27 and living in the snowy Colorado mountains, the inspiration behind the song’s title. Pondering life’s “landslides” and changes, Nicks’ heartfelt lyrics ask: “Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love? Can the child within my heart rise above? Can I sail through the changin’ ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life?” “Landslide” resonates because it evokes life’s seasons of joy and sorrow and the hope to navigate them with loved ones by our side.
When you know someone going through a momentous occasion in life, it can be difficult to know what to do. Here, we explore how you can show up with thoughtful gifts and gestures that inspire them to sail through life’s passages.
Photo: James River Media
Gift giving for special occasions
Gifts show you care about someone and reciprocate the care that person has given you. When shopping, think about what the person enjoys and make it personal. Owner of Bloom by Doyle’s in Lynchburg, Angel Hartzler, explains, “I think making a gift personal to that specific person is important. If a person loves pink, give flowers in pink colors. Do something for each gift that is meaningful to the receiver.” The holiday 5-Gift Rule is a handy guide to buying unique gifts year-round: “Buy something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read, and something special.” When enclosed with a nice card, even money or a gift card feels personal.
Curate your gift to your budget and the special occasion. Whether it is a $5 or $500 gift, you’ll elicit smiles when it exudes thoughtfulness. Life gives us abundant opportunities to show others we care about them: holidays, birthdays, graduations, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, housewarmings, a new baby, christenings, a new job, a promotion, retirement, sickness, funerals or a death of a pet. Your gift can capture a moment’s magic or be an experience itself. For example, turn a digital wedding photo into an iconic framed photograph; give a favorite magazine subscription for a housewarming gift; or cook a scrumptious family recipe to revive an ailing loved one.
The death of a family pet often triggers grief equal to the loss of a family member. Consider sending a shrub or tree to the bereaved that will serve as a lasting memorial for their pet; mail a heartfelt condolence card; or give a donation to a charity like the local humane society or SPCA.
What to give and when
On any occasion, a catered or home-cooked meal that is easily prepared and freezes well will warm the recipient’s heart. Jessica Ward, author of Food to Die For: A Book of Funeral Food Tips and Tales, a National Winner of the Tabasco Community Cookbook Awards, and Food to Live For: We’re Alive and Cooking, pens sage advice for giving culinary delights in her cookbooks, sponsored by the Southern Memorial Association to benefit Lynchburg’s Old City Cemetery. In Food to Die For, Ward wisely advises delivering food in a non-returnable container accompanied by written heating instructions and the recipe. She suggests waiting until after the hectic funeral activities, when visiting friends and family have left, to take the bereaved comfort food or to invite them for supper. Of course, her cookbooks offer a cornucopia of tried-and-true delicious recipes to prepare a fabulous home-cooked repast.
FLOWERS AND PLANTS
Gifts of beautiful flowers and plants are always appreciated. Hartzler notes, “Flowers are the number one thing we think of on all these occasions. Flowers with colors work for a happy occasion and muted colors for funerals. Flowers can bring a smile to anybody.” Plants are excellent get-well and sympathy gifts because they last longer than cut-flower arrangements. “We offer all kinds of plants because they can keep that plant as long as they can keep it alive,” Hartzler says. Peace lilies, scheffleras and dish gardens infuse rejuvenating greenery indoors while hydrangeas, azaleas and roses splash colorful blossoms outdoors. Planting a tree or shrub serves as an enduring memorial to the deceased, whether human or pet.
Gifts that check all the boxes meet your budget, uplift the recipient and nurture your relationship. Debora Keeling, owner of Accents in Lynchburg, began her store 33 years ago when she started making flags with inspirational messages, which sold like wildfire. She continues the tradition of selling affordable keepsake items for every occasion, like enchanting cardinals and butterflies bearing touching messages. Keeling explains, “These are inexpensive keepsake items that have a sentiment attached to them to lift the spirit. People go through hard times.”
Bloom by Doyle’s chocolates and balloons with flowers delight the young and young at heart. Hartzler observes, “Chocolate and balloons are popular on birthdays. So often we think we get too old for balloons, and we only send them to children, yet they can always surprise our older customers.” From a festive wine-and-cheese basket to a get-well one stocked with soup, soap and healing amenities, custom-made gift baskets are popular for every occasion.
Gracious gestures speak the language of love. Perhaps the greatest gift you can give is your time and companionship. For new parents, offer to babysit, walk the dog, mow the lawn, go to the grocery store or just lend a sympathetic ear. On the other hand, charitable gifts are a lovely way to honor loved ones while they strengthen a favorite organization. The charity will send the family a notice of your donation. To make your gift personal, select a charity beloved by the honoree.
During seasons of joy and sorrow, you can show up for others with kind gifts and gestures that tell them you care. Your loving support will help them find the resilience they need to surmount life’s “landslides” and celebrate its blessings. ✦
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