more than just stuff

In 1947 Mr. and Mrs. Albert A. Walker of Whitby, Ontario, sent a box of local honey to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip as a gift for their (Nov.20th) wedding. Just a bit of trivia I recently stumbled upon but which got me thinking about some of the very peculiar things Peter and I received for our wedding and how, really, in many cases we would have preferred honey.

Which got me thinking about gift giving in general and how we choose what we choose and how you can always tell the ‘real’ gifts from the ones that were purchased just in the nick of time. And the clue is never in the cost or the size or the gift wrapping.

Which got me thinking about the upcoming gift season specifically. And how I’m so tired of stuff. Tired of getting it, giving it, moving it around, hauling boxes of it to the Sally Ann, putting even more into storage bins (that have to be purchased, which = more stuff), and above all, lamenting the fact you can no longer burn things in back yard oil drums in the manner my father once disposed of an entire living room suite.

So this year, inspired by the very clever and unpretentious Walkers, I’m giving as many non-stuff gifts as possible (although, admittedly, I do love picking up bits for people throughout the year and especially on snowy nights in December).


Donkeys (sponsored ones from The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada); who wouldn’t want a little donkey in their stocking? 

Backyard Bird Counting Kits  from Bird Studies Canada.  I just love this idea. BSC is grateful for the birdy info over the winter months and what a fun activity for the whole family to get people away from the you-know-what long enough to realize that ohmygodlookthere’s wildlifeinthebackyard!

An IOU for a month of fresh produce from a local CSA farmer. CSA has become hugely popular at my local market where, every week through the growing season, there’s a long line of baskets for ‘members’ filled with the best of whatever’s ready for picking at that time. You never know what your order will be from week to week, kind of like a veggie grab bag, which makes it fun. And it’s always the very best quality. No seconds. (CSA farmers are in markets all over rural and urban Ontario. A perfect gift. Better even than honey.)

A lynx, a wolf, a great horned owl… from Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, where all the animals have been rescued from one horrific situation or another. Bears have been taken out of bad circus acts; lions out of homes that purchased the cubs as pets; wildlife hurt by cars or guns or traps. If they’re lucky, wild animals in need end up at Aspen Valley where they’re rehabilitated with the goal of being returned to their natural homes. If return to the wild isn’t possible, they live on hundreds of acres and acres of open spaces in as natural a setting as can be provided. A brilliant place to spend an afternoon. No glitz or glam. These people, in their wellies and windbreakers, are the real deal in their appreciation and understanding of animals. Definitely not a petting zoo. But if you’re interested in learning, or teaching your kids, about animals in a real (non entertainment, non-zoo-ish way), it makes for one great outing. (Note: if you go, bring a box of old towels, blankets or pillows, or various other items they’d be grateful to have. Check the website.)

Subscriptions to Canadian magazines. Despite ever lowering numbers, there’s a brilliant distilled-to-the-best selection out there. (From a subscription brochure recently received, I counted close to 150 in English, and over 40 in French.) 

Gift certificates to local restaurants. (I’m thinking small increments, tucked into a Xmas card for people I want to just give a little something to; better than a Timmy’s card because Timmy’s is doing fine. Plus I like the idea of community support and maybe even introducing someone to their soon to be new favourite place.)

Always baskets of preserves.

Always art.

Always books.

And honey of course.


P.S. Happy Anniversary to the merry Windsors. Wonder what they’ll be giving each other—A handwritten note promising a month of back rubs? Dinner and a game of charades with the kids? Or maybe they’ll just cosy up by the fire together, reminisce and drink heavily…

One thought on “more than just stuff

Leave a Reply