Let's Talk with Nancy J. Cohen

Let’s Talk Gifts that Keep Giving

December 21, 2017

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Retail stores and online vendors would like us to think that all holiday “gifts” must be purchased. Those store-bought gifts are nice, but there are other kinds of gifts. The personal touch and the “little things” are often cherished more than something picture perfect. I hope you enjoy our author’s thoughts on gifts that keep on giving.

One of the greatest gifts that I have ever received, and that continues to this day, is my husband’s support. Without him, I wouldn’t have a writing career. He allowed me to retire from nursing and write full-time. He accompanies me to all my author events. He entertains himself while I give writing workshops or deliver lectures or talk to women’s groups. He drives me where I need to go. He’s retired, so he can do this, but not all husbands would offer escort service so devotedly. He helps put my boxes of books in the car and gives me support when I need it after getting a bad review or when I feel discouraged. So he’s not only the prince who swept me away forty-one years ago, he continues to be my cheerleader and book tour companion. His presence keeps me in perspective, so I can remember what really matters isn’t the publishing business. It’s family that counts. Here we are dressed up together for the pre-Halloween party at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore.—Nancy J Cohen

I grew up with three sisters, and for forty years, we celebrated Christmas together. Growing up, we’d sit on the top step and wait for the “all clear” to come downstairs on Christmas morning. With the passage of time, traditions must necessarily change as the family expanded and loved ones leave, but one thing hasn’t changed. I’ve always felt blessed to be a part of the family I have, and after being blessed with two children of my own, the gift of family continues with grandchildren. After all the years of hoping for that special doll, or a book by my favorite author, or some other perfect Christmas present wrapped under the tree, my favorite gift these days is the time I get to spend with my family—my sisters, my father, my children, and now, my grandchildren.—Karla Brandenburg

Sometimes, it’s the little surprises that mean the most. After 48 years of marriage, the Hubster and I have cut way back on holiday/occasion-specific gifts. Often, we’ll decide to do something major, like take a vacation, or make an expensive purchase, and we simply say, “This covers birthday/anniversary/whatever for the year.” The important gifts, to me, are the surprises. The ones you don’t expect, be they large or small. Bringing home flowers because, “you started/finished a book.” Finding the coffee is brewing when you get up. The box of chocolates for no special occasion at all. Or a gift that shows he was listening. Not many people would think of a Swiss Army knife as a special gift, but when it comes after you’ve muttered “Why don’t I have one of those” under your breath while watching MacGyver (the original—can’t get into the remake!), it becomes a gift you don’t forget.—Terry Odell

Families provide us two gifts that keep on giving. We receive genes from our biological parents, and we obtain first knowledge of how to organize and understand the world from the families we grow up with. For me, these gifts were the same people. My father was a saver and a list-maker. I don’t know if he learned list-making or created it, but he sure passed it on to me.

He inherited the saving part from our ancestors. When my grandparents moved to Florida, they turned over boxes of family history to my father with the words, “from our attic to yours.” Dad died five years ago, and as the only one with storage space, I became keeper of the family records.

Some artifacts are interesting, some frustrating because the ink has faded to illegibility, and some, like the treasure I uncovered again this morning are priceless. My father created a sectional notebook. Part one contains maps of the United States, one for each year starting in 1936 (aged 11). They depict seventy years of his travels and are color-coded: black for car, red for train, blue for boat; green for plane.

Part two lists every train he took, including line, departure and destination, miles, and train number—the first is at age two. Part three lists plane trips, starting with the 1944 US Army Air Force plane that transported him wounded from a hospital in France to another hospital in England. His last flight was a 2010 Veterans Honor Flight to visit Washington, DC.

Part four surprised me the most: a list, commencing in high school, of over 1200 performances he played in including concerts, dance bands, marching bands, stage bands, circus bands, and orchestras.

These are gifts that will surely keep on giving.—James M Jackson

Giving and receiving are necessarily intertwined, but in a garden, they are inextricable. I can no longer till and plow in a garden plot, so I plant in containers now: tomatoes and greens in the spring and herbs year-round. My basil and oregano like the greenhouse in the winter, but my rosemary and mint and chives shrug off the mild winters here. Not only is tending them good for my soul—their fragrance is extraordinary, and weeding and pruning are very meditative—my efforts bring the taste of summer indoors. Outside the kitchen, I make potpourri and sachets, tinctures and scented oils, and even better, cuttings that I can root and share with friends. A garden truly is the gift that keeps on giving.—Tina Whittle

My father came from a large family, and every Christmas his childless brother Bobo would round up all the family kids and carry them to the B & B Variety Store in nearby Darien. Each child got to spend $5, a fortune or so it seemed at the time. Bobo would encourage us to spend the money on toys. I honestly can’t remember a single thing I purchased on any of those trips. What I remember is that car ride with Bobo and all my cousins. It was magical and exciting. We were part of something. That’s what I carried forward. That sense of knowing who I was because I belonged. That was golden for a dreamy, klutzy, and shy child.—Maggie Toussaint



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Posted in Let's Talk, with Karla Brandenburg, with Maggie Toussaint, with Nancy J. Cohen, with Tina Whittle, zed: Former Authors • Tags: , , , , , , , , , |  4 Comments


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