Our 9 Favorite Gifts
This year, our list of favorite gifts is going to look a little different. Even before my dad passed away on the day before Thanksgiving, I was planning to create a gift list of items that are meaningful and require only a small investment of your time or money. Over the past month, my friends and family have carried me through many days with kind gifts and gestures that I would love to share with you.
Our hope is that this gift list will inspire you to care for someone who is struggling with loss this holiday season.
1. Wreath with hand signed bow - While I was away at my dad's funeral, our church hosted a fresh wreath making night. Not only did the my friends make me a wreath, but they each signed their name on the bow. That was my favorite part. Knowing they were thinking of me and helping to decorate my house while I was away was so encouraging. You could apply this idea to any season by purchasing or making a seasonal wreath and then signing the bow. I plan to save the bow from year to year.
2. Gifts for children - The funeral director gave me the coloring book, When Someone Very Special Dies. Each one of my children (ages 8-12) have been working through it now that we are back home. My daughter also received a squishy stress ball that she squeezed much more than I expected. The hospice remembered my children as well by offering them ice cream and other treats. Our friend, Janelle at Comfy in the Kitchen was also experiencing hospice with a loved one at the same time as our family. Look at this beautiful counter of food that volunteers brought in. I'm certain the cupcakes were a hit with her little ones.
3. Tea and scones (or the favorite warm beverage of your friend) - Before I left for my dad's funeral, a very thoughtful package arrived on my front porch. My husband and I love to drink fresh brewed hot tea, but it's difficult to do that on the road. My dear friend dropped off a bag of one of her favorite loose teas, a travel tea infuser, and some homemade scones. This package brought me so much comfort. Not just the items, but knowing my friend was trying to give me a "hug" in a bag. For your friend, it doesn't need to be tea, but it could be the items that you know they love. Maybe it's coffee and their favorite granola bars, or a Starbuck gift card with brownies. The important part is that they know you're thinking of them.
4. A meal on the day prior to the funeral - This meal was particularly special because of the timing (and the giver). A dear friend who lives out of town from my family wanted us to have a meal before my dad's funeral. Ahead of time, she asked us if we could use a meal that evening called a local restaurant. She ordered us salad, an appetizer, pizza, and a delicious lemon cream cake for dessert. This meal not only nourished us during a very difficult time, but it made it so that we sat down together for a meal.
5. A blanket - This blanket was made for my dad and he used it during his time at hospice and after he came home. It's been a treasured gift because now my family uses it and thinks of him. You can find instructions for making "no sew" fleece blankets here.
6. Meal waiting in fridge on arrival home - When we arrived home after saying goodbye to my dad we were exhausted. I hadn't been to the grocery store for a while and we found this lovely note on our counter. Our sweet neighbors (who helped us in so many other ways) had put a casserole and chocolate chip banana bread in my refrigerator. This gave me an easy, but scrumptious meal to enjoy with my family now that we were adjusting to life at home again.
7. Go to the funeral - I know this is not always possible. I have missed many funerals for various reasons that I would have really liked to attend. I also know that when a funeral is out of town, not as many people are able to attend. With that said, a few of my friends from out of town were able to come and it meant the world to me. Having a few familiar faces from home made a very hard day a little easier. My friends who were not able to make it have cared for me in other ways and also loved me well. When you can attend a funeral, it's definitely a gift to the family, especially when the funeral falls during a busy time of year like the holidays.
8. Pizza (and other meals) sent or brought after the funeral - The photos make it seem like we received a lot of pizza (which the kids did not mind at all), but we have received many other meals too and each one has been greatly appreciated. An out of town friend sent Papa John's pizza to us one evening. Scott, this site's co-founder, brought us pizza/salad and we visit with him and his family for the evening. We enjoyed both the conversation, the laughs, and the distraction. All the meals have been such a gift as I haven't had much energy the past few weeks and other issues have required my attention. Each meal was a reminder to my family and my children that we were not alone in our sadness.
9. Texts, phone calls, emails, offers to clean, cards, and sharing memories - The past three weeks have been some of the hardest of my life. My dad was such an easy man to love and we will miss him deeply. At this moment, my daughter is quoting him and it's making us laugh. Our friends have cared for us well during this time and I have learned from their kindness. My hope is that I will care better for my own friends because I have walked this road and discovered what is meaningful.
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