It’s the evening of Easter Monday, and I’m sitting on my bed at home in Newport. Today marks the end of the break I’ve been giving myself from uni work and I’m feeling nervous about getting back into it.
I haven’t been feeling great at all for the last couple of weeks – I’ve been having big problems with bingeing and feeling like my life is a complete write-off. This has been exacerbated by being surrounded by chocolate during Lent and Easter – I feel miserable that I can’t enjoy my favourite sweet food like a normal person at the moment. Mum and Dad gave me some beautiful spring tulips instead of a chocolate egg which I really appreciate – they’re in a vase on my chest of drawers. I can see the bright pinks and definite yellows out of the corner of my eye at this very moment.
Despite how I’ve been feeling, I have just had a nice week of holidaying in the Lake District with my family and a few lovely days of seeing John, his family and friends over the Easter weekend. Ellie and I are cooking tea together and going out for cocktails tomorrow night and I’m excited for us to catch up. I thought that now would be a good opportunity to write about something nice that pops up every now and again – more noticeably so in recent times. That is, the giving and receiving of thoughtful, meaningful gifts.
The first gift I’m going to talk about is one I was given by my brother John, about three weeks ago.
The last few weeks of my second term of uni had been a struggle for me – my energy and mood were both low and I could feeling myself drawing back from everyone who supports me. I had been speaking to my brothers over our WhatsApp group for a few days, and John asked me if there was anything he could do to help me while I was struggling. All I said was to just be there for me – I’m so lucky to have two amazing brothers that I get on so well with, so just talking or being with them does me the world of good. I didn’t think too much of it after our conversation, besides how sweet it was of him to ask.
A week or so after this little chat and I had to come home for a few days for some respite, feeling defeated and depressed. As I came into the house, I was greeted by John in the kitchen. He handed me a turquoise photo album. Following our talk on WhatsApp he had bought me the album and filled it with pictures of people that mean a lot to me – our family, John, him and me. The last picture he’d put into the album was one of the two of us from the Abbey Hill Christmas party at the end of last year. He even gave me a roll of double sided tape that I could use to stick in some photos of my own.
For him to just think about doing something like that especially for me makes me smile inside, even just as I think about it now. It’s things like this that remind me there are people that I love, that love me too – enough to want to do things that might help me get better.
The second thoughtful gift I’m going to talk about is one that was given to me as a Christmas present by the other John in my life – ‘boyfriend’ John. One of his many lovely qualities is that the gifts he gives me are always meaningful. I am always taken aback at the amount of thought that goes into any card, message, gift or thing he gives to or does for me. As I’ve already mentioned, one of his Christmas presents to me this year was one of my favourites.
On Christmas Eve John came over to my house; for the second year in a row he was to come to St Bede’s with me for the Christmas service. Before heading out to church, he mentioned he was very excited to give me my presents, one of them in particular.
On Christmas Day when John came back over for our present exchange, I pulled the paper away from the weighty rectangular present to reveal a pencilled scene of both of us from our summer holiday in Mallorca. We’re holding hands, looking out to the dynamic open sea.
John tells me he spent a few hours a week in the time leading up to Christmas putting this together. You can see from the first glance that it was made with thought, effort and love. The contours of my calf muscles – the creasing of John’s t shirt – the small pools of sea water gathered on the rocks behind where we’re standing – the spit of the water as it hits the shoreline – all so detailed and carefully crafted. My favourite part of the drawing is the sky. On the day the drawing is based on, the sky was full of fluffy thick clouds (not a day of cloudless blue sky we’d anticipated on our summer holiday!). John’s captured this perfectly by using a combination of pencil and cotton buds.
This picture is framed, sitting on my white fireplace in Loughborough. I’m so lucky to have John in my life – not only for his unwavering benevolence when it comes to gifts but also to have someone so creative and talented to create artwork with. I look forward to a time when we can have weekends of drawing and painting together – it might sound twee but I think it could be really fun!
My final words are going to be on the ‘giving’ of meaningful gifts. I’ve found it’s one of the best things, working towards a gift for a special person.
This example also involves (boyfriend) John, as the recipient of the most recent gift I’ve given. For the first time I wanted to try and make some Easter gifts instead of just buying them. I bought some moulds in Lakeland with my Mum last week when we were in Windermere, and on Good Friday I melted lots of chocolate and got creative.
I had a great time melting, cooling, layering, flicking and dipping molten chocolate until I had a plate of Easter treats, loosely resembling eggs and nests. They weren’t the prettiest things, but I was excited to package these little things up and give them to John on Easter Sunday!
Well, it turns out I couldn’t quite wait until Sunday… John and I got back in on Saturday night and I made him open the little yellow gift boxes I put them into before we went to bed. I really enjoyed throwing myself into something a bit creative this year instead of just buying an egg for John. Hopefully they taste a bit nicer than they look…
I am also excited to plan some thoughtful birthday presents for the big birthdays coming up in my life in the following months. I’ve got my brothers’ 18th and 21st birthdays, and John’s 25th at the end of July. I think these will be really good things to focus on to stop myself getting completely overwhelmed by uni stress.
So that’s me coming to the end on my thoughts of meaningful gift giving and receiving. Not only has it made me feel much less alone in recent months especially, but it has also given me some purpose when I feel like I don’t have any sort of future ahead of me.
If you’re reading this and you’re someone who has been a meaningful gift giver/receiver in my life (you most likely have if I have told you about this blog) then I just want to say thanks – I’m going through some pretty dark times at the moment but you’re really helping me work towards better things.