One of my sisters is famous for her spontaneous problem-solving. She is a creative person and sometimes she just gets an idea, a good one, out of the blue.
"I don't know, it just popped into my head," she says.
O.K. if you are male you are now rolling your eyes, but women, involved in large far flung families like ours, have this in the back of our minds 12 months of a year.
The thing is if you care about people you want to show that, and get it right.
Another issue of course is that there are a lot of us and the younger set has many different financial obligations. The things that come with babies, mortgages, working and trying to get a career on track. That pretty much uses most of the cash and all of the time.
What got to me was this Easter my son-in-law lay on my couch after a great, funny dinner and said "I like Easter so much better than Christmas. No pressure and everyone just has fun."
This got my daughter and I thinking.
So my daughter called Nancy.
A few years ago we went from everybody sending everyone a present to drawing names, except for the kids under 18 or adults over 80 who of course need a gift from everyone.
The name drawing worked for a while but really, depending on the name, it could be hard. If you haven't seen anyone in a while how do you know what is in their closet, on their bookshelf, or in their kitchen?
Putting an Amazon gift card in the mail was fine, but it didn't really feel like a connection.
And connection, in a meaningful way, is what the whole object of the exercise is.
Enter Nancy and her brilliant idea.
O.K. here it is.
We maintain the 18 and 80 rule.
However for the rest of us each person prepares one gift that gets given, by email, to everyone on Christmas morning.
That gift is the instructions for something the giver does particularly well.
A sharing of themselves and what matters to them.
My husband may do a video of his home-made yoghurt routine.
My brother-in-law who was once actually interviewed by CBC on his famous oatmeal may tell us how to do it.
My deaf sister could give us an ASL (American Sign Language) refresher.
I might do a seminar on hemming jeans and sewing buttons (the right way).
Nancy, who is a florist, could show us how to arrange flowers so they don't look like a bunch of stuff dumped in a vase.
You get the point.
So imagine this.
Christmas morning you open your email and, in our case, there will be a multitude of messages that really share some of that person with you.
Now isn't Nancy so smart?
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- I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon