Tag Archives: gifts

Simple Pleasures.

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BY ABBY MAC

In a world where we often spend years, or our life, searching for people or items that make us happy, I think it is safe to say, that we could so easily miss simple things that have the potential to make us the most happy. On Christmas Day, I saw so many simple pleasures, many were missed and others were appreciated.

They varied from the care and delicacy one took to wrap the gift (not necessarily the gift), to the true beauty of a meal or the presentation of the dinner table. They made me happy. They made me smile. And they were extremely simple.

Unfortunately, peoples’ lives are cramped with such meaningless tasks and planned pleasures that these simple pleasures can’t be enjoyed. We forget the people we love and dedicate our precious time to those we feel the need to please or will get us somewhere.

When my two cousins arrived on Christmas Day, I found my favourite simple pleasure. The girls arrived with a basket full of different dolls, craft sets and lip glosses, with dazzling smiles which only ever masks faces once a year. They made it hard not to smile at the sight of their grins.

They showed me each doll and why they were so special to them; they chased me with their toy cars and set up games for us to play. I think it was many Christmas’ ago which I was able to ‘play’ with my toys not apply them, wear them or soak up their smells and colours. And I thoroughly enjoyed those games only recommended for children aged 4-12.

Blingled

My Laptop was ‘Blingled’

After we played with all their toys, they asked me what gifts I was given. And so I listed the lotions, candles and gift cards. Most of that seemed rather boring to them, however they were most interested in what I was going to spend my gift card money on. BOXING DAY SALES, OF COURSE! It was then to my delight that the eldest one wanted to go shopping with me. And there was my simple joy. She wanted to spend time with me. Without a true purpose. Not because it was Christmas or a birthday, because we were two friends and wanted to spend time together. That was the most pleasurable joy of my day.

Simple pleasures are so spontaneous and spectacular which make them just so special. They’re missed for other, less important people or tasks, and aren’t often recognised for actually being pleasurable. How can spending time with a 12 and 7 year old be fun, some may say? It’s often presented as a chore, when really it shouldn’t be. It is your privilege to be together. As a family. Safely.

If I think back to when I was 12 and 7, I would have certainly embraced the idea of having a friend or family member, older than me, open to spending time with someone younger – not being a chore. My simple joys are very simple. My cousins feel free to ask for me to spend time with them. And I am more than happy to willingly do so.

Simple pleasures aren’t planned, they’re spontaneous. They’re pleasures which would never strike you as something you would enjoy or notice, however, when they do, they are the most pleasurable pleasures of all.

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Merry Christmas Everyone!

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BY JESS WRAY

Hey all! I write on behalf of myself, Abby and the Growing Pains Team as we wish you all a very merry Christmas, wherever you may be! I hope you all have a lovely day with whomever you choose to spend it with. I hope you all share the Christmas spirit and enjoy your presents!

If you’re like me, I release the ‘inner-child’ in me on Christmas day. I sprung awake at 3:50 am on the dot. It was still dark and I was so excited to look under the tree, be the first one to see the gifts. I lay in my dark, chilly room and debated with myself whether I should get up or if I should just stop being ridiculous and go back to bed, “It’s 3 o’clock Jess!” The more reasonable, mature side of me won the argument, so I tried desperately to go back to sleep; I shut my eyes tight. After about 10 minutes I decided I just couldn’t do it, so I turned on my lamp and decided to read my book for a while. After I had finished reading, checked Facebook and browsed on Instagram, I was delighted to have a small glistening glow of the sunshine peep through my window! By this time it was 4:45 or something crazy like that. I immediately opened my curtains and let the morning sunshine implode in. I love the crisp smell of the early morning, the gentle cool breeze and the birds that sing in chorus with nature. I was happy that soon I would be able to go wake up Mum and Dad as well, but I had to wait for the time to be just right… If I woke mum up at 4:00, I think she would have a fit and ban Christmas all together!

Not really, but you get the picture. After further debating with myself whether I should get up or not, I finally got the courage to get up and explore beneath the tree! I tip-toed as sneakily and as quietly as I could, checking all my surroundings before I approached the tree. Roger, Roger, the coast was clear. I saw some presents under the tree, all beautifully wrapped with red and white ribbons and each person in the family had exactly 3 presents addressed to them. I tried to sneak a peek but I thought, “Come on Jess, you’re ruining the spirit of Christmas!” By this time, I felt quite lonely and I needed to talk and wish someone Merry Christmas, my mouth felt trapped! I am usually quite the blabber mouth so you can understand my dilemma! I was suddenly greeted, very excitedly, by my favorite kitty, Cooper – he’s my pet cat. We cuddled for a while and he meowed me a Merry Christmas! I held him in my arms and decided to walk into Matt’s room (he’s my younger brother) and to my surprise Matt was wide awake too! A huge sense of relief came across the both of us; I wasn’t the only insane person in the family on Christmas day. Matt and I and little Coops chatted for a while about how we couldn’t get to sleep, he had been up since 4:00 am, and Cooper, well who knows! Later, we transferred to the living room, perfect distance away from Mum and Dad’s room, for us to make a noise and be able to talk and watch ‘The Big Bang Theory’ ; it’s one of Matt and I’s favorite T.V shows of all time. We know every word of the song… sometimes, even the script! So we were entertained by Sheldon and the Big Bang gang for about half an hour when we heard a very exciting sound.

It was Santa! Or maybe just mum awakening from up stairs. We both look at each other and our eyes light up! It was what we had been waiting for since 3:00 am! Thump, thump, thump went Mum’s footprints and the noise got louder as she came down the stairs and towards us; we knew it was time…to begin Christmas!

“MERRY CHRISTMAS!” we belted out as we ran to mum who was still half asleep! We bounced and cheered and Matt and I anticipated and waited for the five words that we desperately wanted to hear… “Let’s go open some presents!” Mum and Dad, Matt and I all sat in our formal lounge and each collected our treasures from underneath the tree. We all took turns opening one present each as we went around the circle. Just like children. Oh, how I love Christmas!

Our family was very lucky this Christmas to receive a holiday as our main present, I also recieved DKNY ‘Be Delicious’ perfume, an eye shadow kit and a Coldplay ‘MY LO XYLOTO’ Concert Tour T-Shirt! I am very happy with all of my gifts and I am very excited to spend the rest of our Christmas Day with our dear family friends, The Ducrays! They used to live in South Africa too and we have known them all our lives, Brigitte (daughter, and my very close friend) and I were born together only about a month or two a part! We do miss our family so much, all the time but especially on these precious days, I send my love and Christmas wishes onto all of my dear friends and family that I cannot be with today.

So once again, I would like to wish you all a very magical Christmas and I hope that you are able to share and celebrate the love and joy with people who are special to you!

How did you start your Christmas day? Do you have any family ‘traditions’ on Christmas day? What gifts did you receive? 

Top 3 Strangest Christmas Presents. Ever.

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BY ABBY MAC

They could be delivered from old Aunt Nelly with the dodgy eye or even the neighbours across the road, but everyone gets strange Christmas presents. These ‘gifts’ could vary from a hand-made sweater with reindeers and Santa dancing on the front (Bridget Jones’ Diary anyone?) or simply another hand lotion which has obviously been re-gifted and still has the discounted price tag on the back.

Bridget Jones' Diary Sweaters

Bridget Jones’ Diary, anyone?

So, with the Christmas spirit floating around, I have compiled a short list of the top three strangest Christmas presents that I’ve ever received.

  1. Two wire coat hangers from my Grandmother. The same gift she gave my mum a decade ago. Tip: Wire coat hangers are never ‘on trend’.
  2. Underwear and a singlet from my Dad.
  3. Pool toys from my Aunt. We don’t even own a pool.

Please tell me I’m not alone in this strange Christmas fever. I often wonder what runs through people’s minds when they give gifts like the ones above.

‘Gee – I really think Abby would like two wire coat hangers for Christmas to hang up all the pretty clothes she gets from other people. Though, I don’t want to spoil her with a whole packet, she might get a bit greedy.’

That’s how I imagine it. Totally logical to them. Totally illogical to us.

But it’s the thought that counts, right?

What is your top three strangest Christmas presents, or does your list go on for longer than three? Have you ever given a strange Christmas present, why? Do you believe that it is the thought that counts?

Christmas Presents for Friends?

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BY ABBY MAC

I have no hidden message. I am not trying to hurt you. I am not trying to tell you that I secretly don’t like you. But if I don’t get you a Christmas present, it’s because I don’t give out Christmas presents, anymore. The biggest cause of my reason to cease in the present giving, are the people whom I gave them to. So, I have decided to list my reasons why this present giving has just stopped, as an explanation to all those affected by my decision!

  1. It’s always a gamble in the selection of the present. For example, let’s say the person you’re buying for is a huge One Direction fan. Do you add to their memorabilia or is it better to think of something more original, instead of taking the easy option? Then, will they even recognise the thought and effort you have put in, to get an original gift, and not another poster of all the cheery One Direction boys looking at her while she sleeps? And, there it is. As soon as you feel worried about what your friend will think of your gift, is where the spirit of giving presents – the celebration of Christmas, is lost. The greatest present that we can give a friend is unconditionally showing them love, loyalty, respect and honesty. If you have really placed thought into their gift, then it truly is the thought that counts.
  2.  How evenly and thoughtfully do you give gifts? I always found it hard to evenly distribute presents to my friends. One year, I tried being fair and equally spending my money for about six or seven friends and buying similar presents. However, the fault here is that your best friend could validly expect a more valuable present than the girl who has only been sitting with you for the past two weeks. Actually, do you even give her a present?

After that dismal Christmas season, I tried prioritising friends and rightfully giving more valuable and thoughtful gifts to those who are most important to me and giving less sentimental presents to others. You’ve already figured it out. That girl who had only sat with us for two weeks wasn’t happy.

3. My efforts, money and value placed on the friend aren’t often reciprocated. I am not asking my friend to buy me a yearly pass to Disneyland (with return tickets), but is it wrong to ask that they at least put       thought into my gift? My answer is no. For example, on the last day of school I gave my best friend a framed photo (pricing: $40) which read inspirational thoughts, with the consideration that she was handling some difficult situations both in school and out. The next year, she presented me with a broken bath bomb. I DON’T EVEN OWN A BATH!

Bad Christmas Present
Have you ever felt this way before?

That is where it hurts. She doesn’t have to buy me something worth anything close to $40, but I am asking for something that shows the value of our friendship.

Too many times, this has happened to me. And, in most of the cases, within a month, we aren’t even friends anymore and she has a framed photo and I have a broken bath bomb. I no longer see the worth of giving presents when no one places the worth in me.

I know I seem like a heartless person, but I do feel comfortable with my decision. This year, I was given one Christmas present from a friend and that was chocolate advent calendar. I actually thought that was great idea and loved it!

I know Jess and I have opposing views on this, but the best Christmas present she has given me is sticking by me and being my friend. That’s my Christmas present, friends. I’ll stick by you and be your friend. And that’s the best one I’ll ever get.

Do you buy Christmas presents for friends? If so, what do you buy them and how much would you spend? Or, are you like Abby, and stopped buying Christmas presents? Why?

What should I buy for my friends and family for Christmas?

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BY JESS WRAY

Are you asking this question quite constantly during this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, I love any opportunity to go shopping for anyone really, especially myself, albeit, when it comes to this busy time of year I really get stuck for ideas and feel pressured to buy endless gifts for everyone. I have decided that I will not make this Christmas another time of just buying useless, insignificant gifts for my friends and family. This year I aim to narrow down my ‘to-buy-for’ list to only my close and dear friends and of course my family. By doing this I will not break my bank (the very small and delicate one that it is) and that way, my gifts will be more meaningful.

As Abby once told me, she is not a fan of buying Christmas gifts for her friends as she said, “You know, I don’t really think it’s right when you spend a fairly big amount of money($40) on a friend and then 3 months later, I receive a tacky gift from the dollar shop in return” and in some ways I completely agree and find that so relatable! Once I gave a whole group of girls that I considered friends, really nice, meaningful gifts and then you look back about 5 or 4 months later and you no longer even like these girls and you start to wonder, was it even worth it? However, as a girl and a human being, I love receiving gifts, and I’m sure most of you do too. My favorite kinds of gifts are small, sentimental ones. They make me feel special and mean so much more than a block of chocolate or an expensive scarf. Although, I will never reject those presents!  So when you think of it that way, even though sometimes we question our relationships and whether we should buy a gift for a person, think about all the good things you have done with someone or the priceless memories that you share and decide who really deserves a small gift of appreciation from you.

You will notice that I specifically said “small gift of appreciation” and I mean exactly that, Christmas gifts do not have to be extravagant, in fact, the more meaningful the better! This may mean that you get your best friend who loves shopping, a gift voucher from her most favorite shop or for your best guy friend who loves rugby you may choose to buy them a small rugby ball or even those cute rugby ball key rings for his school bag. Something small that they are able to keep and/or use forever and when doing so, will think of you. Well that’s my goal when I look for presents for each of my friends and it’s much more worthwhile and makes shopping a bit more challenging. Although in saying that, if you are like me and you often leave your gifts until the very last-minute and you are panicking and need a ‘cash and dash’ (as I call it) sometimes it is best to go to shops that your friends rave about or spend most of their time in. For example one of my closest friends is always talking about Miranda Kerr and one could say she is slightly obsessed with all the Victoria Secret models – but hey, who isn’t? So I decided that, since my friend also likes a lot of products for your body and health, I bought her a really nice ‘KORA‘ body lotion, which, if you didn’t know, is a part of Miranda Kerr’s new organic products collection. So effectively, you could say, I knocked out two birds with one stone! Go me!

It’s little ideas like this that can go a long way and can create memorable gifts that I’m sure anyone would be delighted to receive! After all, it may sound incredibly cliché and a tad cheesy, but it really is the thought that counts and if you don’t have a massive budget or have run out of time, a well-written, meaningful card will definitely suffice.

Shopping for Gifts

Oh and my advice is to get into the shops as early as possible because the shops are getting really busy and all the sale items are getting fewer and fewer as we speak! Or if you are an online shopper, I would also recommend making sure you find out how long it will take for your gift to arrive and if it takes a couple of weeks, be sure to order it as soon as possible! So to wrap it up I would like to wish everyone a ‘happy shopping’ for the next couple of weeks and hope that you have a lovely Christmas and find lots of prezzies under your tree!