On one of our early holidays together, my husband gave me a beautiful robe and gown from the nicest shop in town. I distinctly hated it. A black silk robe with red roses all over it was something I would never wear, never even give it a glance. He has missed me entirely - that is how I thought about it. Hasn't he noticed how I dress, who I am? I haven't worn anything floral since I was three. My dear husband had gone to a trusted advisor, the owner of said fine shop, and let her direct him to the popular style that season rather than trust his instinct to find the gift that would light me up. Backfire.
A few years later, on a day that had no signifier attached to it whatsoever, my husband came home with a small simply wrapped package. Opening it, I found a new book of poetry by my favorite poet inscribed with his affection. Completely undone. (He listens! He knows what makes me sing! He gives it without reason or prompting!) Smitten. Slayed.
It's not how much money we put into a gift that matters, of course, but how much thought. Bothering to see and celebrate the person we love - that's the point, right?
At least, that's what I'm thinking about as I gather some favorite things for our Ibu Holiday Gift Guide. What strikes me is how each gift can honor the woman receiving it, crowning her true self, as well as honoring the woman who created it, dignifying her skill, her craft, her life. Both the artisan and the ally are elevated. Both are called by their true names. Ibu.
Like a branching tree, gifts go forward to the one I love and go backward to the one who crafted out of her hands and heart and imagination a thing of beauty that I may pass on. Knowing that this woman's work is cherished, that her children are fed and hopeful, knowing that she is made stronger by my giving - that is half the story. The other half is the joy on a friend's face when she opens my gift.
The best gifts, after all, are those made with heart, given with imagination. That story will never go out of style.
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker
P.S. Together, my husband and I returned the black robe with red roses to the fine shop and walked down the street to pick out a striking vintage hand-beaded Naga necklace that still makes me smile each time I wear it, 20 years later. And that was the beginning and end of the floral period in my fashion life.