What Santa Really Looks Like

Welcome back, Ali Denney!  Ali has taken over some of the reigns again for The Nest and we are excited to have her drop in her words, wisdom and general workhorse ethic back into the shop after a bit of a geographic hiatus.  You’ll be seeing her name pop-up in blogs and publications and photoshoots, so give her a holler and a woot and let’s get into that holiday spirit!


My mother-in-law is the most thoughtful gift-giver I know.  She gives when expected, gives when unexpected and never bases her motives on anyone else.  Her gifts are practical at times, like a stuff sack full of re-usable grocery bags she gave me for my birthday (being that I live in California) and impractical at others, like a tiny ceramic dish she gave me because she thought the quote on it resonated with a heartfelt conversation we had. She gives books to my kids and let’s them wake her up early in the morning just to cuddle on the couch in pajamas and read them together. And that’s exactly how it works for her.  Simple, unassuming and thoughtful.  She is present with others in conversations and events.  She writes down dates for doctor appointments or grandkids music recitals and wakes up at 4am just to make you your own special bag of homemade caramel popcorn and deliver it before the important event.  She hangs on phrases she heard you whisper to your children and recognizes the tinge of exasperation in your breath as you relay your list of To-Do’s for the day.  When out doing her daily shopping or running errands, she thinks about you and buys something to remind you that you matter to her.  She calls you and asks if she can drop-by with it. 

This is not obligation, friends.  This is the antithesis of obligation.  This is a natural-born gifter. This is Humanity dressed in a winter jacket and hat and carrying a ziplock bag of caramel popcorn.  And it matters.  It matter so much.

I want to be like her.  I want to give like her because I’ve seen first hand what an authentic gift can do.  It lifts the spirit, turns the edges of mouths upward, inspires a hug.  December can be tricky.  The holidays draining us of every ounce of ‘extra time’ we may have by filling us with countless gift buying excursions.  We are entering a season fraught with a tornado of money spinning around plastic toys and electronics and designer clothing.  But I believe there is a different way to give and I vow this year to give like my mother-in-law.  To give gifts, cards, calls and texts with forethought and authenticity.

And with that commitment, I’m actually looking forward to a holiday season filled with gifting and shopping. When giving thoughtfully, shopping doesn’t feel like a chore. I’m looking forward to scouring small businesses like The Nest for a unique gift for my mother-in-law. Something that would make her smile, something with a story to go with it. I can’t wait to shop Pop-Up shops to get for handmade jewelry and accessories from local artisans who really care about their gifts and take the time to help shoppers like me find something perfectly fit for my blossoming pre-teen nieces. It actually makes gifting fun, for me, and makes the task at hand this December far less a task, and more a privilege.