Encouragement (for Life as well as the Garden)

The Best Gift You Can Give

Gift giving can be a lot of fun. Sometimes it’s more fun for the giver than the receiver.

Remembering the first Christmas I spent with Bill 53 years ago, I can still feel the excitement of his opening my gifts. None of them even made it to Christmas day or even Christmas Eve. Every time I’d buy something, I’d get so excited that I’d end up giving it to him that evening – after urging him to try to guess what it was.

All his life he kept that child-like enthusiasm when given a gift.  Made it so much fun!

The Cold Hard Facts of Credit

Problem was, those gifts were charged and I really couldn’t afford them. We had to go through some rough times before I finally “got it” that if you don’t have the money you don’t buy! You do without.

I consider myself very fortunate to have learned that lesson (even if it was the hard way) since for the past 30 years we’ve lived in this “age of credit” and money printed by the government with nothing to back it up. Especially those who have grown up in these years, think it’s normal  and “that’s just the way things are done now”.

Unfortunately, individuals and/or societies can’t break universal laws (agriculture is another example) without paying the price sooner or later. It’s just the way the universe works.

Stopped Gift Giving on Holidays

It didn’t take many years for Bill and I to stop gift giving on worldly holidays. Lots of things accounted for that, but it worked out great.

There’s a freedom that comes with not feeling like you “have to” give a gift just because it’s expected. And a real freedom too in feeling good (rather than sad) about not buying what you can’t afford.

When we did give each other something, it was always a lot of fun and nothing to do with any holiday.

In spite of material gifts being so much fun, they can’t compete with the best gifts. The best gifts can’t be bought with money.

What Sustains Me Through Grief

My greatest gift in life was being married to Bill Martz. His example throughout our life together, his attitude, and his unconditional love for me worked together to create the environment I needed to build the inner resources that sustain me now.

There was never a time that he was too busy to stop and give me his undivided attention when I really needed it.

Undivided attention (when it’s needed) is one of the most priceless gifts we can give to our mates, our children, and our friends.

It’s the kind of attention that really “hears” what they have to say. It tells them they’re important to us and that we value their thoughts.

It’s the kind that you can’t fake – especially with kids.  They see your heart and will see right through pretense.

Final Thought

Wishing you every joy and happiness and all the best gifts.



All content is copyrighted by TendingMyGarden.com. All Rights Reserved.


  • Thank you. This was from the heart and it meant a lot to me. It made me realize I need to stop what I am doing and listen to my Doug. Thank you for taking your time to bring this message home. God Bless You.

  • Thank you for this wonderful reminder and your transparency. Very true words! As you point out, children remember the time spent together and the listening, not the “stuff.” We have five children, all grown up now. Even they look back and say, “You know, we really didn’t play with toys much. We just wanted to go outside and play, or go camping, or hiking all together.” Material things do not hold the quality that personal time does. I, too, wish you joy and peace during this Christmas season.

  • Theresa, what a wonderful and timely message this is! Especially in today’s technology-centered world, where it seems most people are so addicted to their smart phones that they’re really not “there” for the people who are with them!
    Here’s hoping that a lot of people make the decision to BE THERE 100% for the people whom they’re with at that moment!
    Wishing you a merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!

  • My extended family stopped buying gifts several years ago and it IS very freeing. When we come together, we enjoy the important things–being together, playing games, sharing a meal. We give small homemade gifts like a jar of jam, a crocheted potholder, small loaves of breads or cookies. No one goes into debt and we don’t accumulate more of what we don’t need anyway. I highly recommend the change. Merry Christmas, Theresa!!

  • Thank You Theresa!! Beautiful words of wisdom, from vast experience i’m sure! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and the happiest of New Years! i’m looking forward to 2018’s gardening fun too!

  • Theresa,
    Thank you for bringing yourself to all of us through these posts. Your wisdom and attitude are inspiring. I, too had to learn the “hard way” about just how damaging living above our means can be. I have to confess; I spent more of my life not managing money well, but oh, the freedom and feeling of mastery being able to manage money well has given me! I would love to see more people (especially our children) learn this. Blessings to you and hopes for a wonder-filled new year.


  • Theresa-
    You have such important wisdoms to share. The relationship you explain between you and Bill means so much to me – I wish I had the words to explain what I mean by that. It warms my heart and guides me to hear (read) you talk about what Bill gave to you and taught you. And that he is responsible for your strength to persevere through grief is such a gift.
    Thank you for reminding us to be “present” with our undivided attention and unconditional love.
    One of my greatest gifts is having YOU in my life!
    With Love,

  • Theresa,
    Thanks again. Life is soo hard and yet soo easy if we pay attention to the loving spirit around us, we will never think it is very hard. If we don’t that is where our difficulty resides. Our God sets the tone for our living in the way we need to. He does it through others like Bill and certainly you.

    I am truly enjoying your posts


  • Patricia, I’m so glad the post meant a lot to you. When I know I help others, it keeps me motivated to write. Thanks for letting me know.

    Laura, I loved your example about your kids. As you said, material things do not hold the quality that personal time does. Thanks you so much for taking time to comment. And I return your good wishes.

    Sue T, glad to see your comment. I know you recognize the value of quality time with family. Your support and being there for your daughter this year, I’ m sure, made a great deal of difference in her life.
    So glad she’s better.

    Betty, I’ve missed you and was delighted to see your comment. Thanks for the recommendation about gift giving. It really is wonderful to be free from all that “have to” stuff.

    Heather, thanks for joining the conversation. Always good to hear from you.

    Beth, you are so welcome. And I return all your good wishes to you and family!

    Gail, it’s been a while since I’ve heard from you. I trust all is well and that you are enjoying your husband’s retirement. I know he traveled a lot when he was still working and it’s nice he can be home now.
    Glad you have become a good money manager. I know it makes a big difference!
    So glad you seem to enjoy the posts and benefit from them.

    Patricia, thank you!

    Toni, you always inspire me. That touches me deeply that you consider my being your life as one of your greatest gifts. Thank you!

    Steve, Thank you for what you said about Bill (and me). He would like that very much that he was able to set the tone to help someone else.
    Glad you are enjoying the posts and always grateful when you let me know.

    TO ALL OF YOU: Your comments mean more to me than you can imagine. Without your letting me know that I’m helping you, I would have no way to know. And if I were not helping, there would be no reason to write. So your comments and expressing your feelings are one of my most treasured gifts.

    Thank you VERY MUCH. I hold you dear and wish you every happiness.

  • Theresa, I would echo everyone’s sentiments. It is refreshing to hear “live within your means”…my parents taught me this from an early age and like others have said, it’s very freeing.

    You always speak of Bill in such a soft-hearted and loving manner not only expressing his love for you, but all that he has taught you…that is such an example of real love. Reading your comments, I find myself wishing Bill could share ALL that you have taught him…which I’m sure is equally great.

    Merry Christmas my friend 🙂

  • Thank you, Theresa. And we send loving wishes for a deep sense of peace and contentment through the holidays and into the coming year. I love the truth you stated about universal laws – they really can’t be improved upon and the sooner we learn that, the more at peace we are. Your posts and the replies from all over the country are such a refreshing reminder that we are not alone, even if we are a minority. I always enjoy the generous sharing of wisdom, compassion and advice. Thanks to all!

  • Jim, your comment touched my heart. Thank you.
    I don’t know that I taught Bill anything, but I would be interested in his view on that question as well.

    It took me a lifetime to really learn “how to love” and even then I’m not sure I got it right. But it always seemed to come natural to Bill.

    How blessed I was to have had him in my life.
    Thanks for taking time to express your thoughts to me, Jim.

    Shelia, it’s been a LONG time! I was delighted to see you joining the conversation! I hope all has been well. I’ve missed you.

    You’re sure right about our being in the minority. And as you said, it’s a refreshing reminder to learn that we are not totally alone and there are others of like mind.

    Returning all your good wishes.

  • Merry Christmas, dear Theresa. You are the matriarch of a large and caring family of fellow gardeners. You gift us with every posting. Our gardens and our lives are better because of you. Thank you.

  • What a wonderful compliment Mary. Means the world to me! Thank you.
    Just got your order for Secrets to Seed Starting Success. Sent it a few minutes ago.
    Let me know how you do!
    Thanks again Mary. Sure was good to hear from you.

  • What a beautiful post! And to think I thought I’d only be reading about gardening here… Such a good first post to see from you! Especially around this time of year, this is exactly what we all need to hear. There are plenty of things in life that are far more important than gift buying. Time to read more! Thank you so much, Theresa 🙂

  • Landscaper – glad you enjoyed the post. Nice to have you reading.
    Let me know if you have questions about various things as you go through TMG and read.
    Again, welcome.

  • Theresa,

    You made me ‘think’ and that is not easy to do. Thank you for providing great substance in your posts.

  • Oh dear, I’m so guilty of being lost in my phone and half-paying attention to my husband. And vice-versa. My New Year’s Resolution starts this minute! Thank you for the wonderful and simple gift of your reminder post!!!

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