Tag Archives: gifts

Christmas by the Golden Rule

Give Unto Others As You Would Have Them Give Unto You. 

For your esteemed consideration, a brief list of gift possibilities that have nothing whatsoever to do with endless asphalt parking lots, elbow-throwing shoppers, overworked credit cards, feelings of anxiety and resentment, and/or inevitable, near-horizon additions to your town’s overtaxed landfills.

If I could give the sort of gifts that I would love to receive they would look like these.

For someone ready to move into the next phase of his/her life: Folded neatly and tied with cotton twine; a recently-shed and very magical snake skin, found during a hike along an abandoned railroad grade high, above Oregon’s wild and beautiful, Deschutes River. A gift that will remind your loved one that shedding what no longer fits and then moving on, though sometimes fearful, is as natural as the progression of days within a life itself.

These gifts might not cost anything in dollars, but in each case they would cost their givers in time and awareness, and intention, which really, seem far more valuable as currencies.

A hand-carved Pine Bark Bunny, whittled while leaning against an immense sun-baked rock, surrounded by the pungent heat of a summer’s afternoon. Whether used as a Christmas tree ornament or a bookshelf chotchky, this little bark bunny is a gift of hope and playfulness, and a reminder that magical totem creatures may be found in the least likely places to help you in your journey. (I was first introduced to pine bark carvings as a very young boy by my dad who surprised me with a wonderful toy he’d carved for me while he was conversing with an old friend along a summer lake shore. They have fascinated me ever since.)

From the very edge of the earth . . .

Stones and Shells gathered on a rainy, healing winter’s walk along the beach: Here then is a gift that acknowledges the beauty of an ever-changing shoreline, honors the beauty that remains from a life that was, and that reminds its recipient of the softening, hard-edge smoothing effects of those crashing waves that sometimes pound against us.

Flavorful medicine for the chills of winter and the senses of the imaginative soul:

Wild-gathered mint, enough for at least a couple of pots of healing tea. So many of the medicines our hearts and bodies need are out there within the living, breathing world, as opposed to being found within the cello-wrapped packages on store shelves. This bundle of wild mint, gathered in a lowland seep along an untamed river has been drying and breathing within a cool, dark closet since summer, awaiting its chance to enliven the senses and relive aspects of its midsummer glory. Steeping these fragrant leaves within steaming, pure water will release healing essential oils and dream-inducing smells, and magically some of that warm summertime calm may reanimate and share itself with the sipper from within a china cup.

An invitation to consider what lies beneath and to risk letting it be seen:

Chestnuts resting in their prickly husks; Just beneath the spiny surface of so many wondrous things, flavors and colors and the tactile sense of utter smoothness. How many of us have built up spiny exteriors as a means of protection from those things we fear will touch our lives in ways we do not welcome or understand? And how many of us, having grown that prickly exterior, now feel trapped within it, so that those we love are now afraid of us and reluctant to even try to get very close. This is a gift that says, “I see you. I see beneath that gruff exterior and know that there is such a wealth of goodness, even softness buried just beneath it . . . and I am calling out to you to shed some of those thorns, if only for me.” What imprisoned soul wouldn’t find a tiny jolt of recognition and relief at receiving such a gift?

A reminder to live beautifully wherever you are, to draw warmth from the coldness of others and nourishment from the very air you breathe.

Here is the one gift in this humble gift collection that required any ‘buying’, for Tillandsia (air plants), simply do not grow wild in this region I call home. However, an air plant this size can probably be obtained from your local nursery or garden store for between five and ten dollars, and given that it needs no soil in order to live a healthy life it strikes me as a particularly powerful metaphor for a gift. One simply needs provide one of these magical plants a humble place to reside and no matter how poor its surroundings, it will find a way to gather what it needs, both to thrive and to grow ever more beautiful. This particular tillandsia lives atop a beautifully weathered ‘lava’ rock brought home from a camping and fishing trip along a lonely stretch of high desert river. Taken together, this handsome twosome provides a study in contrasts that continually dances with my imagination.

And so it goes, you see…

Of course, not everyone would understand such gifts, and some, inevitably would see them as uncool and unfair, as ‘cheap-outs’ or tight-wadded attempts to save their givers money rather than deeply thoughtful gestures that were intended to be delivered with a story and an implied, “I see you and love you.” Perhaps you will be able to see some of the gold that this soul suspects would result if each of us began to celebrate all of our holidays in closer accordance with that magical golden rule, giving as we would most like to be given to. And really, unless you just hunger for some useless, five, ten or twenty dollar trinket from WalMart that comes bubble-wrapped in plastic and that will be broken beyond any usefulness within a few weeks, and then headed for the landfill, why, why would you, or any of us ever resort to such gift giving inanity for someone else, just so we could check them off our gift list? Perhaps it is time to reclaim the essence of gift giving, investing the time you’d otherwise spend working to pay off the credit card bill generated by purchasing some of those silly gifts and instead, thoughtfully gathering and making, and weaving a personal story for your loved ones.

Which, if any of these gifts would you most like to receive? And what is the first of this type of gift that you imagine giving? Would there be some inherent metaphor or message behind it, or would it just be a simple gift of beauty?

Namasté

(And for those interested in such things, all of these photos were captured on an iPhone 5 using the Camera+ app and then processed in the iPad version of the same app, because it has more variables and control. All of the items were placed upon a sheet of kraft wrapping paper and lit with a single, affordable, incandescent Tota-light, diffused by a white cloth.)

Differentiation

Looking to create the next great garden “it” thing…

Knowing how important is it to draw proper attention to oneself in this crazy, loud, busy internet-freeway of a world, I’d like to announce my latest garden product, the HOSTA LUEGO, a trend-setting new pot design that I’ve developed for retail nurserys everywhere in an effort to move those tender plants that didn’t sell during the growing season, make tons of money, prove that I’m cooler than Bud-Light in a 16oz. can, and duh, that I can think way, way outside of that proverbial old box.

You’ve probably come to expect pot designs that feature living plants and the aesthetically pleasing textures and color palettes they bring to your little bit of garden heaven. OK, fine. But I would submit that that tired, worn out approach is like, so   . . . September, 2012. Furthermore, I would submit that the really cool kids are ready for something totally different this holiday season, something that won’t require any care on their part while still making them look both natural and trendy. And don’t forget, Zombies are totally cool. Dig?

Enter the Hosta Luego, the hippest new form of merchandise ‘cool’ is a colorful pot containing a hosta that has succumb to the rigors of approaching winter. Just look at those lines, the textures, the subtle colors. Add a simple red bow and ZOWY baby, these uber-hip gift pots will literally fly out the door like those monkeys in the Wizard of Oz.

And then, come springtime, SUH-PRISE!!! Just imagine it, an actual, bright-leaved, living, growing plant will emerge from the architectural ruins of this lovely designer gift-plant corpse so that its loving owner can anticipate its demise all over again. Love!

Or, if you’re one of those hipsters who wants to give something totally unique but are a little afraid of the stigma of paying to ship dirt to your Aunt Marge down in Texas or your nephew Marvin in Moline, perhaps you should consider sending each of them their very own custom-cool version of this: Personalized video greeting and signed book. You supply the name and a few details, I’ll supply the smiles. Guaranteed!

Here’s a link to that sample video once again, in case you missed it.

Seriously, how much cooler & more personal a gift could you possibly give? For reals?