Re-gifting from the Heart

Written on December 11, 2013 at 12:00 pm , by

Written by Rachel Macy Stafford

From a very young age, my older daughter, Natalie, has been a gift giver. Like most children’s, her offerings consisted of items that adults wouldn’t ordinarily classify as gifts. Broken seashells, traumatized frogs, dying weeds and misshapen rocks were often presented in small, dirt-laden hands beneath a wide smile. In the past two years Natalie’s gift-giving practices have moved up a notch. Gifts are no longer found in nature; they are found in our home.

Yes, it’s re-gifting at its best—wrapping barely used items and presenting them with great love.

Although highly practical and earth-friendly, this gift-giving practice brought to mind words like “tacky” and “cheap.” But for some reason, I had enough sense to stand aside and let my child give as her heart dictated.

Last Christmas Eve, Natalie spent hours wrapping barely used bottles of lotion, tiny hotel shampoos and gently used books. She then declared she wanted to distribute the colorful packages to homeless people in the downtown area. Her very first recipient was a frail, elderly woman with sad eyes who clutched her life’s possessions in a ripped trash bag. It wasn’t until I watched this woman’s face completely transform at the mere sight of my pint-size gift-bearer that I got over myself.

Shortly thereafter, Natalie thought it would be nice to create a care package for a family in India with whom we’d connected through Operation Christmas Child. On top of the new pajamas, packaged toothbrushes and pristine white socks, she placed two hairbrushes that she and her little sister had used for almost a month. Natalie was adamant that the brushes must be included. It wasn’t until we received a thank-you note with this picture that I vowed I would never cringe at her gift-giving practices again.

In fact, when the mood strikes and a present is needed, I thoroughly enjoy watching Natalie search the bottom of her messy closet for the ideal gift. I am now quite certain there is something miraculous in the way my daughter gives—in the way all children give.

Children remind us on a daily basis that our most precious gift is when we stop in the midst of our busy lives and give a piece of ourselves—our undivided attention, a lingering embrace, a word of encouragement, snuggles in bed, one-on-one time or a helping hand. This season, consider giving like children do. Rather than spending hours at the mall shopping for the “perfect” gift, remember that what your loved ones want most this year is you.

If I had to give a name to such heartfelt gift giving, I would call it “hands-free”—letting go in order to give the gift that really matters. And you can’t put a price on it.

Just ask a child.


Join Rachel on her journey to let go of distraction, perfection and societal pressure to grasp what really matters by visiting or “The Hands Free Revolution” on Facebook. Rachel’s book, Hands Free Mama, is currently available for pre-order and hits shelves on January 7.


6 Responses to “Re-gifting from the Heart”

  1. Rachel,

    Moving as always. I love the photo of the boys and their new-to-them hairbrushes, sent with love. So sweet.

  2. So like my now 8=year old dd. On various occassions, I have received a cat-scratching-board, rocks, spatulas, a ceramic lighthouse decoration, and even a butterfly metamorphosis kit (marble, stuffed caterpillar animal, green sock wrapped up in tape, and stuffed butterfly animal from her collection) – all beautifully presented in enough giftwrap to keep Hallmark in business for the foreseeble future. And she never leaves the house to shop! She is equally generous with her friends and yes, strangers. Thanks for sharing the story of your precious daughter. :)

  3. Thank you for taking time to comment Chris! What a loving word of encouragement. Thank you, Kathy, for sharing the sweet details of your own memorable gifts! I think our precious daughter would get along perfectly!

  4. Lovely! We have had many gifts of special rocks, pieces of string, a feather, etc. We are in the middle of a Christmas version this week. Our 8yr old has been secretly wrapping presents for us for Christmas. She is really struggling with waiting until Christmas to give us her gifts. One night as we were reading stories by the Christmas tree and as she looked at her gifts for us under the tree, she pleaded with me to give one to me. I could not resist her request. The present was the empty roll of a tape dispenser. I told her what a neat idea, then we proceeded to figure out different ways we could use it…use it as a wrapping device for my crafting ribbon, wrap yarn around it so the yarn doesn’t tangle…and my favourite…a thumb “twiddler”. :) . I thanked her and enjoyed her spirit of giving. Best tape roll I have ever received!!

  5. Hello,I loved this article,all of your posts,as you spread one of the most important mssgs that needs desperately to be heeded…and in such a lovely whimsical way:-) I also have a giver <3. We've received such things as heart shaped rocks,countless acorns(w or w/o) caps,feathers,coupons found on floor @market,coloring pages wrapped in a carefully folded piece of constrctn paper,random bottle caps,etc…<3 No adult given gift can compare with the joy that comes w these small treasures,not by giver or recipient…Wow are we lucky :-) Thank you for spreading this joy as you do,so very needed in this world today <3