Column: Consider a gift that keeps giving

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sara Aeikens, Local columnist

Several years ago my niece gave us a very simple Christmas present. It was a pot holder with a honey bee hive design on it. It was a special memory for me because my father tended bees in Minot, N.D.

I used to help him spin out the honey from the combs and watched him expertly catch a swarm of bees. Occassionally, he would get stung on his tongue because he didn’t check the backside of his metal tool for stray bees when he licked the honey off of it.

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Each time I use the pot holder I have good memories of both my dad and my


Besides giving me these memories, my niece donated a check in our family name to start a bee hive business in a third world country. She let us know ahead of time that this could become a family Christmas tradition. Instead of buying material gifts that had no personal investment from any of us, she donated money in each family name.

Being a former Peace Corps volunteer and being raised to recycle and respect our environment, I decided to carry on her idea with other family members and friends. We now donate to organizations such as the Audubon, the Nepal Social Service Fund, or some other mission fund, in the name of our loves ones. They receive a thank tou Christmas card from the organization and when possible, I also send what I call a metaphor gift, some small item, preferably hand-made, to tap into good memories for family members.

My family is familiar with both Audubon and

the Nepal Social Services, so it is a gift with meaning, impact and love.

Perhaps your family is considering doing something similar this year. I would also suggest giving gifts purchased from the Audubon Center or giving hand-made gifts. If you have special gift traditions like this in your families, let the rest of us know, through a publication, organizational meetings or networking.

(Sara Aeikens is a resident of Albert Lea.)