I was wrapping presents today and noticed a good chunk of them are food items. Among them are chai spice blend and cocoa nibs (both from my favorite – The Spice House) as well as 100% Kona coffee for my mom, Virginia Diner peanuts for my grandparents (salted, Old Bay seasoned, and butter toffee) and dad (chocolate covered), little boxes of Godiva chocolates for the girls’ stockings, wine for my sister – heck, even the dog gets a 2 foot long rawhide bone. When I was a kid, Christmas Eve was filled with people stopping by and dropping off food gifts: cookies, candies, a ham, fresh baked bread, fruit baskets. (As I mentioned before, our neighbors here share gifts from their own kitchens: a rum cake, homemade trail mix, fudge, and brownies are often among the treats.)
Aside from fruitcake (I’ve tried to appreciate it, I really have), food gifts given this time of year are lucious, delectable and unique (and fattening, but we won’t go there) – not your typical run-of-the-mill grocery store items but special things we wouldn’t normally think to purchase. And, I’m apparently not the only one who gives food gifts. From Harry & David and Cheryl’s Cookies (lemon frosted…yumm) made in the town where my great-grandparents lived – Westerville, Ohio – to Hickory Farms and Omaha Steaks – these specialty food companies cite Chirstmas time as their busiest season.
Now, I could wax philosophical about breaking bread, but I prefer to think that the answer is much simpler. We want to give something to be enjoyed not something that will be returned the next day. We give what we love and we love food. Food is the any age, any sex, any holiday or religion, true “one size fits all” gift. (Personally, I’d rather have a couple jars of homemade jam over a waffle iron any day!)