• J. Woken

My Hug Stand-In

Surprise! It’s a hug in a box!

A Not-So-Short Farewell to 2013.

Anyone who knows my letters knows that rarely are they short. So often I intend them to be snippets of endearment and appreciation, a sweet spoonful of happy goodness like the crumbly sugary bottom of the cereal bag… but, alas, I am infected with the word bug. Words just spew out of me. No medicine can help it.

Words are my business, but they are often of so little help.

In reflecting upon what 2013 has brought — changes in where I live, my livelihood, my name… and I even have a cat now (unimaginable!) — words are so utterly useless. A flood of emotions overwhelms my mind, from pure joy to melancholic reflection to hyperactive anxiety and calm, simple pride… I cannot find the right words! Even though the new, updated (and, I’m certain, the VERY HEAVY) Oxford English Dictionary includes 600,000 words to describe and activate the English language… I’m certain there is lacking.

For instance, the success of my younger sibling’s sprouting new career in the medical field. Or the discoveries in the happy first year of my first little nephew. Or the deep appreciation for my parents. Or the thanks I have for my dear husband’s patience in handling the obscure challenges in adjusting to the odd habits of his new wife. (Though keeping chilled beer stocked makes up for many of my shortcomings…)

In conjunction with my lack of words, I’ve spent the past few weeks mailing numerous packages to people I love across the nation. Some are nearby, but, sadly, most are far away. Such is life in this Age of Mobility. My absence from them stabs at me with a spear of guilt. How to be everywhere to love everyone I hold dear, all the time?

It just goes to remind:

Gifts are stand-ins for hugs.

I love sending gifts. Love it. No contest…. LOVE! Almost as much as I love hugs. (Again: LOVE HUGS!!!) Unfortunately, not everyone is good at receiving gifts (or hugs, for that matter).

There are the shy who don’t want to be bothered with the attention. Then there are the too humble who don’t feel they deserve gifts. Or the thrifty who would rather you use the money to put toward a so-called “better” cause (trust me when I say: YOU are the better cause!). Finally, the Mirror Gifters. You know them: those folks who, in all well-meaning politeness, accept your gift with a passive reluctance and then tell you how you should keep it yourself because it’s so nice. The following year you end up asking yourself, “How did I end up with Julie’s Blue Willow teapot, again?”

Especially around this time of year when some folks feel like they are only receiving a gift out of some sort of holiday obligation, I kindly like to remind my far-off giftee that they are, indeed, special to me. “You know,” I scribble on a note card enclosed with their present, “I can’t see you all the time. I miss you a lot. I wish I could be with you. Because I can’t be, I want you to have this.”

Hence, I deem my presents from here on out “gift-hugs”.

Who do you want to gift-hug today?

There are a number of websites I frequent for primo gift-hug giving. Of course, Amazon. But everyone knows about that one; it needs no more talking about. Bor-ing. But…

Here are 3 LESSER-KNOWN GIFT-HUG SITES you’ll love:

1. If thrift store browsing and Ebay had a baby, this would be it. Tons of great thrift store finds on a searchable database. Have a musician in the family? Why, hello, “Cool & Beautiful Mother of Pearl Inlayed Mandolin” for $360. Someone who loves unique jewelry? Hello, “Vintage Laurel Cinnabar Style Cloisonne Necklace” for $11.29! The only downside is that the website is specific to Goodwill of Orange County. The upside is that you’re guaranteed to find spectacular items that make the OC of Southern California so trendy!

2. Yes, this place is getting more and more popular among the crafty types looking for handmade beadery and trinkets, but I wonder if gifters know there are many affordable, personalized gifts to be found here? Take, for instance, JennMac’s Etsy Store. She’s listed under “illustrations and paper goods”, but her artwork is much more than that. JennMac will take a photo of your family, a description of your house, a special dozen memories… and combine them together into a beautiful black and white portrait you can use to make into wall art, invitations, cards… whatever you might need! All at a starting rate of $40, less than the price of a couple of sweaters from the Kohl’s rack that Uncle Who’s-its will probably never wear.

3. A little more run-of-the-mill, but still a great alternative. Gifts range from intricate holiday wreaths to jewelry to foodie gift boxes (or beer tasting sets). You’re sure to find something for everyone in this place. Not only do they have nice stuff (much of which can be monogrammed or personalized), but a lot of the products are “exclusive to RedEnvelope”, assuring that what you buy will indeed be unique for your special gift-hug recipient.

So, as you close this 2013 shopping around for special things for the special people in your life, just remember to gift-hug with sincerity (NEVER obligation!) and receive such thoughtful delights with open-armed joy. (Nobody likes to have a hug rejected, after all.)

Happy Gift-Hugs and a prosperous 2014 to everyone, near and far!

-Jessi MOI

#business #deepermeaning #inspiration