Give With Your Heart

The holidays are approaching for most of us. Have you ever noticed that sometimes the gifts that mean the most are the ones that reveal an emotional sensitivity by the giver?

Over the years I have “dispensed” with Christmas by giving gifts of monetary value and minimal emotional impact. I am not proud of this and I honestly suspect that my irritation with the commercialization of the holidays is the reason. Yet as I look around my home, I can observe the items that I have chosen to hold on to. Little hand made pieces of art work, even from my 8 year old niece, Tessa. Gifts from the heart. Leave it to the children to bring us back to our senses.

So, this year will be different. My excuse has always been, “I am just too busy with work, ”
but this year I’ve already embarked on a meaningful gift plan.

The gift of tradition
My sisters and I grew up as second generation Americans. My grandparents came from Slovenia and Croatia. During the holidays we would always be inundated with a particular ethnic delicacy, a sweet bread called Poltt’ca (pronounced po-teet’-za). As an adult and following my culinary training, I took the opportunity to learn the recipe. Though I have taught my daughter the recipe, I am the true “keeper of the flame” when it comes to this tradition. Last year I did not bother. I was too busy. The truth is that it is a lot of trouble to make.

Anyway, this holiday season, I will take off two days just before Christmas to make the loaves. The work is tedious and requires a full day of focus. The dough is a raised yeast product that is rolled with a sweet ground walnut filling I will be turning my bathroom into a proof box, my kitchen into a bake shop. This year I will not be stingy with my time and just be generous with my money.

Giving with intention
I have been buying my way out of the spirit of Christmas for years now. This year I am buying my way back in — with my heart and my time and my effort. My sisters and I can not even smell this bread without instant visions of our childhood. With both parents gone, we are the only ones who will make this connection. My niece, who is embarking on an extremely successful fashion design career, once told me that she would go to more symphony concerts if she could afford it. She will get a symphony gift certificate. I’m so excited because I think this will mean a lot to her. I suppose my lesson here is that giving without my heart is not really giving at all. I get it.

Have the Holidays become too commercial? Share with us your thoughts.

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