by Shauna Cook
When you’ve been together for so long, holiday shopping for your significant other becomes tricky. Over the past seven years, I’ve gotten my husband everything I could think of for Christmas. A fire pit one year, to enjoy winter nights in our backyard under the stars. A mini-fridge to keep next to his gaming computer, just in case walking to the kitchen (a mere ten feet away) was too strenuous. One year I even splurged for concert tickets to an artist I wasn’t exactly excited to see but knew he’d enjoy. But this holiday feels different. With the stressful year that has been 2020, with all crowded events coming to a screeching halt, there are no concerts, weekend vacations, or sporting events I can gift to him this year. This year Christmas shopping felt daunting.
I was contemplating how to navigate this first Christmas without gift ideas last Saturday morning as I drove to work at the Winter Market. I began replaying the year in my head and looking for the small moments of joy my husband and I had shared together. I was certain in those small moments of happiness I would find an idea of what to give him this Christmas. It was an uneventful year, of course, so the only moments I could think of were the ones spent at home. Memories of us on the couch settling into a blanket for what must have been the 180th movie night in a row. Or the nights we spent doing puzzles and trivia and played Mario Kart out of pure boredom.
Then I remembered the moment we both actually looked forward to every day in isolation. Not the things we did out of the inability to find anything else to do. But the thing we prepped for seemingly every day: dinner. With nowhere to go and no one to see, dinner became the highlight of our day, our week, our month — and eventually our year. Sharing dinner and cooking elaborate meals with ingredients we had never even heard of before had become our ritual. And with 2021 just around the corner, more days of staying home ahead of us for who knows how long, I realized maybe giving the gift of more fun dinners would be a great gift idea. This realization was good timing…I was going straight to a place with tons of food and decided I would shop around for gifts at the market.
When I got a moment at the market to browse I wandered from vendor to vendor, unsure of what I wanted, but with no shortage of options. One vendor had a box set of freshly made sun-dried pasta with two jars of pesto sauces. Another vendor had warm hats and gloves all made from alpaca fur. There were tea sets, holiday wreaths, jars of pickled ingredients, jams, salsa. There were mushrooms, frozen meats, baked goods, and plants — all items that aren’t necessarily meant for placing wrapped under a tree but would still make a nice gift on Christmas morning. Almost anything you could imagine for a night in, a delicious dinner, and a second course of unique snacks spread on the table, the market had. There were so many different gift ideas, and gifts I had never given my husband in years prior, it gave me a renewed sense of excitement for the holidays.
I ended up buying the pasta gift box and a bag of coffee beans for my avid coffee drinking, pasta enthusiast of a husband. Both items are wrapped right now, waiting to be opened Christmas morning. Maybe giving the gift of pasta and coffee isn’t the biggest or grandest gift a person can give to the ones they love. But it’s more than just dinner and a cup of coffee. It’s the gift of spending time together in the kitchen, plating our sun-dried noodles with pesto sauce before sitting down together at the dining room table. It’s the gift of waking up late one morning and sharing a cup of coffee on the couch with each other. If this year has taught us anything it’s that these moments — the often small and seemingly insignificant moments — when strung together, have all the ingredients of a wonderfully simple and happy life.
About Shauna Cook
Originally from New Hampshire, Shauna has spent the past few years living around the country — everywhere from Las Vegas to Mississippi. Yet nothing quite felt like home. So after seven years away, she has finally returned to the Northeast for good. With a bachelor’s degree in English and currently working toward her Master’s in Public Relations, Shauna views the world through storytelling. Connecting with others through writing is something she is passionate about. She is excited to use that passion to connect the community to local, sustainable food in her year of AmeriCorps VISTA service at Farm Fresh. In her free time you can find her running, reading, or telling her golden-doodle not to eat something she found on the ground.