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Christmas gifts past and present

In the past, at this time of year, I’ve written a column that starts with, “All I want for Christmas is,” followed by specific information about a particular item.

One year I yearned for an easy-use flax grinder and the next year I was looking for the world’s best pedometer. It must have resonated because after each column ran, I got queries from readers to whom I then provided detail about purchasing the products.

For the record, the grinder went to Goodwill long ago because we purchase already-ground flax and store it in the refrigerator. And pedometers are “so yesterday,” as my daughter reminds me when I mention I still have one. My husband must have heard that exchange because this year he is gifting me with a “smart watch” that does everything from tracking activity and exercise to playing music on command. Looking forward.

Gifting is a part of the season. You may have completed all your purchasing, wrapping and mailing by the time you read this, but there is always next year. I have a few ideas I am particularly enchanted with, and that is what gifting is all about. In a way it is self-indulgent because you can bask in a well chosen present and the joy it brings to someone.

Gift cards are everywhere, of course. They are easy to stick in an envelope and send to a faraway grandchild. I did a lot of that this year, but I tried to lend specialness by putting an Old Navy gift card in a colorful, handmade cloth purse I got at a thrift shop. For our grand-boys I ordered do-it-yourself crates (www.kiwico.com) that assure the grandchild gets a “seriously fun and interesting science or art project — delivered.” Fourteen-year-old Alex will get to put-together a laser projector. Jordan just turned 7, and I think his first crate will provide all the materials for building a lantern — or maybe the first crate was making a ukulele. And the crates will come every month all year long. A year of gifting — these boys are worth it.

I have purchased my share of Harry and David boxed chocolate, but Trader Joe’s has a “festive milk chocolate Christmas tree kit with candy decorations and icing” that I gave to a few special people. There is a photo of a cute Boston terrier on the back that says, “I know, I know. No chocolate for dogs. Bummer.”

I am giving the gift of caroling to our neighbors by organizing a group to go house-to-house with Santa hats and song. And my husband gets several black, long-sleeved, mock turtle-neck cotton shirts. He read an article indicating that was what “men of high intellect” wore — and he has been talking about it ever since. The best gift I received and already opened was from a lovely 90-something friend. It was a large, well wrapped box with a bow, and it was full of “Royal Medjool” dates — two pounds of dates. How did she know I liked dates — had I told her that?

I even liked the little reminder note on the package, “Caution, contains date pits.” Not only was this a uniquely lovely gift, it was a sweet metaphor on life in general.

Sharon Johnson can be reached at sharon@rbtrv.org.