If I remember correctly, Hobbits used to give Mathoms instead of gifts. A mathom is an item that is passed from one Hobbit to another in place of a purchased gift. I hope I have that right. It has been many years since I followed the escapades of Bilbo Baggins. Anyway, as I clean out my kitchen cabinets, I am finding quite a stash of mathoms. Bruce just came home from a bee meeting with one-a set of swan shaped, silver plated candle sticks in the original box. They were some sort of a door prize. Thank you. I will pass them on ASAP.

This got me to thinking about gift giving and how it relates to sustainability and preparedness. When we got married, 36 years ago, a shower gift was a nice set of pot holders or some glasses or a cookbook. Often, the item was handmade. I still use the aprons a favorite aunt made for me. An acceptable wedding gift was a small appliance like a toaster or blender. I actually got married in the era of the fondue pot. I got 4 of them. How things have changed. Most wedding gifts now seem to fall in the $100.00 dollar range for friends and $200.00 range for family. I have gone to a couple of kid’s birthday parties where gifts cost an easy $25.00. Call me cheap (Please! I consider it a compliment) but I think this is plain silly. Most gifts, especially gifts for kids, become landfill clutter about 2 hours after opening.

I think we should become Hobbit gift givers and turn to mathoms. As the economy deteriorates, we need to think about what gifts are saying. Are they conveying a message of I love and care about you or are they saying I don’t have a lot of money but I am willing to run up my Visa card to keep you from knowing it?

Last year, a friend who really was not obligated to give me a gift, never-the-less got me a seed sprouting set up for my birthday. It wasn’t expensive but it was perfect for me as I hate cleaning the cheese cloth after a sprouting session. I gave him an extra set of canning jars I had in the basement. Again, not an expensive gift but one I knew he would use. For kids, I tend to pick up  drawing paper, crayons and markers when I find them marked down and keep them on hand for the forgotten birthday party (There is a preparedness connection. I knew there had to be.) The markers may have Easter Bunnies on them in October but do kids really care? I would like to go a step further and say that used books make a good gift as do the ingredients for cookies in a jar with the recipe attached.

We have given up giving gifts outside of the immediate family for everything but weddings and new babies. Bruce has 8 brothers and sisters and I have three and we have a pile of nieces and nephews and now a new generation. We would go broke trying to buy for everybody. If you can’t give up gift giving entirely, can you convince your family to turn to mathoms? The only rule is that the item has to be entirely useless and cost less than $2.00. Free is better.

This may seem like a silly thing to waste time writing about but there is a serious side to it. This country has to rethink how and why we do things. Trying to impress people with what we have rather than who we are has driven people to bankruptcy. The hot tub culture has to be replaced with one that honors honesty and responsibility. Taking back our country starts with taking back our own lives.