The Gift of Giving

Have you ever received a loaf of homemade bread? Have you ever given one to a friend, neighbor, or someone who looked like they needed some kindness? Giving gifts is one of the love languages Dr. Gary Chapman discusses in his book, The Five Love Languages. Giving a gift communicates care and concern for the recipient. It shows them they are important; they are seen.

            I have a girlfriend, Sheila, who has taught me so much about the art of making friends and is also a master gift-giver. She has never met a stranger she didn’t connect with, and it is incredible to watch her work. Here are some of the things she has taught me.

  • Give the gift of talking about themselves.

This is an almost universal truth. If you don’t know what to say, ask the other person to tell you something about themself. People enjoy sharing their stories, their experiences and want to tell you about their life.

  • Give the gift of remembering their name.

When you use someone’s name, it shows respect. Using someone’s name shows them they are seen. Using someone’s name shows them they are important. However, I am guilty of asking someone their name and promptly forgetting it. Once that happens, it’s embarrassing to ask again. I’ve learned that if I try to use the person’s name three times while speaking with them, I am more inclined to remember it. This trick works to help me remember, and it also communicates care and concern to the other person. That’s a win/win!

  • Give an actual gift.

This one will surprise you, the giver, and the one who is receiving the gift. I often comment that Sheila has never met someone who hasn’t received a jar of her homemade salsa. I think she cans salsa in the fall so that she can give it out all year. I’ve seen the faces of those who receive this gift. They are overwhelmed with gratitude. They transform in statute and spirit. It’s incredible to watch. I don’t do this naturally, but I can tell you it is a fantastic feeling when I follow this lesson. I love seeing how others react, I love how it makes me feel, and it creates a connection. It always feels risky to give a gift to someone I don’t know well, but no one has ever refused or rebuked me. Instead, they always say thank you and walk away smiling.

A loaf of homemade bread may be the inspiration you need to experiment with this gift-giving idea. Here’s my best recipe to help you try it out.

Pumpkin Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 15-oz can 100% pure pumpkin

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Generously grease two 8 x 4-inch loaf pans with butter and dust with flour
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk until well combined; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until just blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until very light and fluffy, a few minutes. Beat in the pumpkin. The mixture might look grainy and curdled at this point — that’s okay.
  4. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined.
  5. Turn the batter into the prepared pans, dividing evenly, and bake for 65 – 75 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the loaves cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Written By: Christine B., Masters Level Intern

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