Is there an art to gift-giving?
My thoughts on gift-giving are not very impressive. Many of today’s kids are thankless and no matter what you give to them they are going to return anyway. My first question is; What kind of gift is it going to take for them to treasure instead of return it? You’ve probably already asked yourself this question. What are their likes and dislikes? They are not going to be satisfied with something ordinary. If it is ordinary, they can exchange it and buy something for themselves. How about something they have asked you to get for them? Where is the real pleasure in giving something that someone asked you to buy? That sounds routine; as if they’re asking you to pick up a loaf of bread on your way home. Where’s the surprise?
Do you honestly want to buy them something they really don’t need or want another of the same thing? Give cash? You do that every week anyway, what would make that special? Besides, if you give them cash again what are they going to want to do? They are going to want to go right out with their friends and spend it, leaving you alone and feeling used and empty.
I was thinking of these things when it was getting near our granddaughter’s graduation from high school. I was at a loss as to what to get her. I thought maybe a book or a piece of jewelry. No, that is not good enough nor is it personal. I had to give her something special because she graduated high school against some tough odds. So I decided that I needed to think about this for a while, and I deliberated on this for weeks before I decided what I would give her.
Her grandpa and I began to remember the good times she spent with us and all the fun things we did together. She just ate it up when we would tell her stories of her mom, or when she herself was growing up and she was thoroughly in the moment herself. Laughing about those things together sure would be fun especially now that she was at the age when she would be getting out on her own soon. Her Grandpa and I always wanted to give her something and do things with her that her parents never did. We spent much of our time with her as often as her parents would let her, and they were very generous about that. Here I had thought that a book would not be a good enough gift for her, but what if I wrote the book myself? There were two things I knew for sure; she hadn’t read it yet, and she could not return the book.
We had a lot of pictures since she spent so much time with us while she was little. There it was … a book of memories and surprises. The memories were obviously while she was growing up along with stories about the people she knew. The surprises would be family history included in this book. After all, we were important to and she told us that a lot. Yes, that’s what we would give her, a book about her growing up. I was sure that no one else would be giving her this type of gift.
I got to work on this right away. First I had to find a way to go about writing a book, and how would I get it into a book with real pages. Then there was the question of how could I design this book. Would it be the way I wanted? Or would it be a design I’d have to fit the book into? In other words, how much of this book would I really be designing? I did some research on the internet and found that there were several companies that did this for you. You could design the book yourself and then have them publish it. I looked at several websites and what they had to offer in the way of design, the number of pages I could have in this book and the quality of the material itself. I chose one company and started to write my book. The freedom of arrangement was not bad, but I did have to use their predefined themes. I spent hour upon hour working on this book. I carefully arranged all the pictures, and wrote tons of memories, and put in stories of relatives on my side of the family that she had known.
I kept on writing and put a little family history in there too. I put the order in to have it printed and I waited excitedly to get the book and inspect it. When it finally came, I was so disappointed. The pages were thin, the type was very small, and the binder was already loose. I checked their website again, and saw that they refunded your money if you weren’t satisfied. I was not happy at all with the job. I returned it for a refund. So, the hunt began again. I found another company whose ad sounded as familiar as the company I just rejected. They were a little more expensive than the last, but I would give it a try anyway.
So I started all over again. Mixbook did allow complete freedom to design the book exactly the way a person wanted it. If I wanted to add 20 or more pages over the limit I could do that too. It was a little more expensive, but I wanted this as our granddaughter’s graduation gift and by golly I was going to write this book the way I wanted. Control of design was completely my decision all the way from the book cover, background design, size and placement of photos, words, and stickers is given to the writer of the book.
I have had several people pick up this coffee table book and begin to read it. One of my friends picked up the book and didn’t put it back down until she had read every page. She thought this was the best gift idea ever. She thought she will do that for both her boys.
Even if your photos aren’t the best, you can always edit them. The instructions are on the editing pages which I will soon have in the blog. I know there is only one lesson so far that is on this site, but I am working on some edits that are amazing. You can fix your photos, or put them in as is. The photos I really had to work on were the ones from the early 1800’s. Most of those were faded black and whites with chunks gone from the photos and scratches all over. Check out my editing pages.
As soon as I got started I knew this was going to be fun. I really put my heart and soul into the project. I didn’t put anything in the book that might embarrass her in front of her friends. I wanted her to love this book and be proud to show it to anyone. As I began to write, I found that I hadn’t put nearly enough memories in the first book and this book turned out to be almost twice the size of the first one. So many memories we had. Her grandpa and I put our heads together for this project.
We reminded her of the trip to Colorado Springs and the hotel we stayed at when she was only about five or six years old. There was a pool, but you had to go outside and over to the next building. We thought that would be fun so we did just that. It was cold and windy going over.
We got into the pool and got wet first and then climbed up the steps to the top of the slide. We went down with her for the first couple of times. Then she said that she wanted to go down the slide and into the water by herself so one went up the ladder, and the other at the end of the slide to catch her. I put her in the chute and she gave herself a little push. When she got to the other end, she was turned around and came out backward. We were laughing so hard we could hardly talk.
Well, that kept happening and I told her she shouldn’t do that because she might hit her head. She was laughing and saying that she wasn’t doing that, the water just was turning her around backward by itself. When we went back to the hotel it was almost dark, and the wind was biting us until we got inside the other building. We ordered pizza. She promptly ate four pieces of pizza and fell sound asleep.
Another one was about her GG. Her GG was her great-grandmother on my side. We used to go visit her in the assisted living home she was in. One of the residents would come to play the piano in the large living room on her way to the dining room. When Jess began to dance to the music, all the other residents would sit down and watch her instead of going to lunch. Jess ate it up and danced her little heart out for them. Then when the resident at the piano was done playing, all the residents in the room applauded her, she truly did love that she entertained them.
Many times we had dinner with her GG and I told her stories of the interactions she had with her. By the time the book was written, I had quite a few pages and thought that it would be better if I just wrote a separate book of family history and present it to her in a couple of years.
This is how the book came out. I was very pleased with this book. The pictures were bright and clear, the words were big enough, and the stickers were right where I put them, the binder was strong, and the pages were heavy enough so they wouldn’t easily rip. I was very happy with the book and was sure that Jess would be too. I got it in the mail and just waited impatiently for the book to arrive.
The book is designed by the writer. The tools are fantastic. Take a look at the butterfly in the second picture down. It looks as if it is floating above the page. This is all done within the program. Notice that each page has a different background color and that is because the design lies in the hand of the writer. The blue arrow at the bottom of the middle section was within the program, the frame around Branson Vacation 2008 – within the program. The quality of the paper and binding is fantastic. I was so impressed with this book that I wrote the “Surprises” book the same way. (Family history)
I knew almost the minute she got it because she called us and excitedly told us about the book. She raved and went on and on about the book. She loved it and said that it was the best gift she has ever gotten in her life. I was relieved. I knew she would like it, but her reactions to it were totally unexpected. It made us feel good about the book and I knew for sure that I was going to do the family history book.
Even though this book was more expensive than the other one that was made very cheaply I guess the old adage is true. “You get what you pay for.”
Once I got started on the new one, (family history book) I knew that this book would take a lot longer for her to read since I had so much information already, but I also knew that this book and the story of one of the most important families in this book of history contained another historical mystery. She would have to go to the library to look this one up. I also knew that after she read the book “The Elephant Voyage,” she would have more questions than before. Isn’t that the way things are?
The book is about “Sarah W Hunt” and Captain Minor who left thirteen men to die when he abandoned them when they did not return to the ship after being put in two boats to go ashore to hunt for seals. This story is one I know that she will read. All of the six men that were rescued later, were in bad shape and one of them was my great-grandmother’s twin brother. The story is intriguing, especially since all six of these men got put on a ship bound for San Francisco, CA from Sydney, Australia. They could not be traced after that. We have done a lot of research and nothing has turned up for all that work. There were pictures of history in our family from the early 1800s. Anyway, I looked up information on His Majesty’s Service ships and what went on when they were stationed patrolling the African slave routes near Africa. When a slave ship was captured, the crew received a reward for that from the government. There were many things that were interesting pertaining to our family, and I’m sure that all families have similar experiences as to the position and duties of their ancestors. We had a relative that was on one of those ships and served in H.M.S. for a number of years.
These are just a few ideas of things that can be written about. I will almost guarantee that the receiver of such a gift of this caliber gift will not already have one. Remember, they cannot return it either. Imagine how special this type of gift will become to the receiver. There are family vacations, graduation from high school, marriage, albums for families, and all the kids growing up. There are many things that can be written for a unique gift-giving experience.
Give it some thought. Think about how it could work out for you. It’s so much better than looking at the family album, or old home videos.