You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
My niece is getting married this month and the excitement of wedding plans, bridal showers, and pre-wedding parties is in the air. Last month, at the bridal shower my sisters-in-law and I hosted, I was stumped by her gift registry on “The Knot” – the typical items were listed on the registry: towels, dishes, and various items for the house – I wavered between “buy something, anything” off the registry, or give the gift of cash they could use toward the purchase of a new home.
Consumerism or minimalism? Consumerism or Minimalism? buzzed in my head.
Minimalism won as I scrolled to the end of the registry and clicked on “Our First Home Fund”.
I remember what it was like when my husband and I were trying to buy our first house: we lived on one paycheck and banking the other, scrimping and saving for the 20% down payment, hoping we would qualify for an 8.75% fixed rate loan. Things were a lot different 28 years ago.
I clicked on the pretty house icon, added an amount, and then clicked on “Gift It” and then printed out the details: a picture of a house, the amount of the gift and the $2.50 service fee. I hated the thought of just giving her a piece of paper, especially one that showed a fee.
I wracked my brain thinking of ways I could present the gift. I didn’t want to just place the piece of paper in a card or roll it up like a scroll. I wanted to include it with something she could open, something she would enjoy in a new home.
Lost in thought, I remembered that in the course of de-cluttering, I hadn’t touched my “hostess gift/emergency gift” shelf in the closet of the guestroom; I knew I had purchased a wonderful casserole dish that I could include with the paper I had just printed.
I pulled open the double doors in the guestroom closet and pulled out a box that contained a Cordon bleu oval ceramic casserole dish. I had purchased two of the butter yellow casseroles: one for me and an extra one – because I thought someone else may enjoy it as much as I enjoyed mine.
Next to the casserole dish was a set of two linen tea towels from Sur la Table; I had purchased them a few months prior because they had matched the dish perfectly. I had to laugh: it had been another case of “Buy one for me, buy one for just-in-case” – a habit that is still a challenge for me to break in the course of moving toward Minimalism.
When I placed the casserole and towels on my desk, I thought about how much joy my oval casserole dish brought me: I loved the size and shape of it. I loved the sunny color as well as the dimpled markings on the side. I loved the feeling that each time I used it, the meal felt special. As I had this last thought, “Company Eggs” popped into my mind.
Company Eggs is what my late Mother-In-Law called her fluffy egg casserole; it was a longtime family favorite and the simple recipe that consists of eggs, cheese, milk, sausage, sourdough and spices and was always made the night before. It is my younger son’s favorite part of Christmas morning and on occasion, he will ask me to make “the eggs, bread and cheese thing in the oven.” I knew I had the original recipe my Mother-in-Law had handwritten and given to me nearly 28 years when I was a newlywed.
I went into the kitchen, pulled out my recipe box and plucked the recipe out. The card was well worn, with splotches and stains from egg and milk had been spilled on it over the years.
I made a color photocopy of the recipe and set it, along with a printout of the monetary gift for “Our First Home” fund into the casserole dish, on top of the tea towels, then closed and wrapped the box. As I tied the ribbon on the gift, I visualized my niece and her husband in their new home, enjoying Company Eggs on a lazy Sunday morning.
At the bridal shower, I enjoyed watching the expression on my niece’s face as she opened the gift: gratitude for the financial contribution and appreciation of the casserole dish and towels, but what I really enjoyed was seeing the look of surprise and joy as she realized that she had received a copy of her Nana’s original recipe for Company Eggs.
I love stumbling across unexpected perks of minimalism and in this case, it was a way to connect, be more giving of myself, and passing down a family favorite.