Giving is Always in Season

Giving is Always in Season

By Lori Hutzler Eckert, Editor

I was one of those Christmas-season babies, arriving home from the hospital in a giant red velvet stocking.

As my mother tells me, I was due to be born in January, but I arrived a month early (hence creating an ingrained pattern of doing things on my own schedule, much to my parents’ frustration). While my mother may not have been fully prepared for my birth, my father was pleased to get in the tax deduction for that year.

And so, for the past 40 years, people have taken pity on me for what they have deemed as my unfortunate timing for a birthday. Not true, I contend. Of course, I was 14 years old before I realized people were not lavishly decorating their homes and throwing extravagant parties just for me.

The perception of a holiday birthday being less than optimal all boils down to one thing … gifts.

I laid down rules early in life on the subject: no red and/or green wrapping paper, no last-minute scrawling on the bottom of a Christmas card “and a Happy Birthday, too!,” and most importantly, no combo gifts.

Combo gifts are when people lump two distinctly separate gift-giving occasions into one effort – and one box – then put a bow on it and consider the job done. Now, you may find this rule a bit harsh, but it has served me well. For example, while dating, I could weed out those suitors who unknowingly violated this tenet. One tried to slide by with a pair of earrings – one diamond stud for my birthday, the other for Christmas. Sadly, it didn’t work out.

I knew my husband, Richard, was the man of my dreams when he presented me with a birthday gift wrapped in pink paper during our first year of dating. He has been true to the birthday gift rules for six years, so things are going pretty well at our house.

As I obviously have a lifelong vested interest in the dynamics of gift giving and receiving, I was particularly excited about this issue’s Holiday Gift Guide. From luxurious (Bass Pro Shop’s gleaming Van Staal spinning reel) to luscious (a basket packed with delicious treats from Kilwin’s Chocolates), I had the pleasure of finding some of the hottest and hippest holiday gifts, many of which are available in stores on the Emerald Coast. Check out the Holiday Gift Guide and check off the most discerning friends and family from your shopping list.

In this issue, we also offer you suggestions for giving charitable donations as a holiday gift. Writer Anita Doberman explores the relatively new and easy online possibilities of gifting donations. She also outlines tips for how to go about the process while protecting your personal information and your contribution.

And in the spirit of the holiday season, Emerald Coast Magazine takes a look at five local leaders who give from their hearts year-round. Writer Christy Kearney tells the stories of these philanthropists who are driven to make a difference in the world by assisting children and adults in need of a helping hand.

Christy said that meeting these five very special people proved to be not just another writing assignment but an “inspirational ex­perience” for her. I hope that as you read about each of these volunteers, you also will find inspiration for making a change, no matter how big or small, in the coming year.

On behalf of all of us at Emerald Coast Magazine, I wish you a very merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, and a safe and joyful New Year. And to those of you who were fortunate enough to be born during the holidays, happy birthday!