It isn’t always about what you receive or how much money was spent, but about the memories attached to a gift that sometimes ranks it up there with gifts to remember. As the holidays approach it is fun to think back about what gifts might have made a lasting impression, and what gifts we can give that may become memory makers.

One of my most cherished gifts is a necklace that my husband, Keith, bought me for my birthday. We had been at a flea market and I had told him about this really cool estate necklace I saw but didn’t buy, because it was too rich for my pocketbook. He took the time to trace through the vendors, find the necklace meeting my description, and purchase it. While the necklace is beautiful, what was more touching was the time and trouble Keith took to find this bauble to meet my heart’s desire.

click to enlarge Krista Stringfield’s jewelry armoire, made by her late grandpa - PHOTO CREDIT TERRY LADAGE
Krista Stringfield’s jewelry armoire, made by her late grandpa

I polled a group of friends about gifts that moved them or inspired them. Some commented on gifts they remember that have touched their hearts. A young mother, Beth Miller from Teutopolis, cherishes a few items she has that connect her to family memories. “I have many gifts made out of things from my Grandma’s and Grandpa’s things,” Beth said.

One of those items is a stuffed teddy bear made out of quilt material. “Most of the keepsakes I have my Mom and Aunt have made. Some of them we have had someone local make, and I do have a couple special ones that my Grandpa helped make too.”

Quilts seem to find a special place. Friend and blogger Rick Shaw, who works as a truck driver, said, “I have a quilt my mom started making to go in the first brand new semi that I ever drove back in 2010. She had many projects and the quilt was never completed before she passed away. Although my first wife and I didn’t stay married, she always remained close to our family. She was the one that cleaned out mom’s sewing room and helped find homes for the long arm quilter, sewing machines and what not. A few months after Mom had passed she called me and we met up for a few minutes. She handed me a big sack and I was speechless when I looked inside. The quilt I had figured I would never have had been completed by two women who hold a part of me.”

Debbie Maxwell, a friend from Rossville, said that she has a quilt that her husband Chuck’s grandmother, made out of scraps. “One of the pieces is of a green checked material with apples on it – her old apron. Plus we have a picture of her wearing that same apron. We both treasure the quilt to this day!”

My niece, Krista Stringfield, has a gift from her grandpa that makes her heart sing. “My grandpa made my grandma a beautiful 15-drawer jewelry armoire. I admired it and mentioned I would love to have one, “Krista said. “I never thought I would get one because I knew the time, the effort and money it would take.”

Despite the effort, he surprised the family. “That Christmas, he was 80 years old. He had my mom, aunt, sister and me draw a piece of paper out of a bowl but he wouldn’t tell us what it was for. I was opening my presents and I opened a small box that had a picture of an almost-finished armoire, just like the one he made my grandma. I stayed silent and waited until someone else opened theirs. My sister was the next one, and she exclaimed, ‘Is this what I think it is?’ My grandpa then explained that he decided to make all of his girls an armoire, and he had started making them at the beginning of the year.”

Her grandpa completed all the armoires. Krista: “It is the most beautiful gift I have ever received, not because of the amazing craftsmanship (which of course, is amazing) but because I know how hard he worked on them. He showed us love by making us gifts, and I treasure them even more now that he’s gone. I’m so lucky I get to look around my house and see so much of my grandpa’s love.”

These are just a few of the memorable gifts that made the recipients’ holidays bright. It isn’t always the craftsmanship, or the actual beauty of the item, just the thought and love that went into the making.

Cindy Ladage, an author of children’s books, lives on a farm near Virden. 

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