On Thanksgiving afternoon, I stepped into the spare room to retrieve the diaper bag and spied this simple gold basket on the top bookshelf. It’s a Christmas gift I made more than 10 years ago for my stepmother and I am touched that she still has it. I made about 10 of them for friends and family—and over the years the “52 Things Basket” has proven to be the most important gift I ever gave. It’s simple to make, lasts for a lifetime, and holds its meaning.
Here’s the concept:
- Find a pretty container. I’ve used baskets, painted wooden treasure chests, vases.
- Cut 52 slips of beautiful paper, one for each week of the coming year.
- Write one thing you appreciate, admire, adore, respect, love, treasure about that person. One item per slip.
- Fold up the slips and put them in the container.
My friend Craig kept his 52 Things on his desk at work, where each Monday morning he would treat himself to another slip from the basket. Starting his workweek with a smile! Mandy, on the other hand, sat down with her basket in her lap and gobbled up all 52 notes in one sitting. It’s like a box of chocolates—some people enjoy the sweetness all at once and others parcel it out.
My sister-in-law received one of these baskets where her boys were little. She called me laughing one day. “I had just screamed at the kids and sent them to their rooms when I looked over and saw that basket you gave me on the kitchen counter. I needed a boost, so I took out a slip of paper. It said ‘You’re a great mother.’ HA…right!” We laughed about it, but the note wasn’t a lie. She IS a great mother, even when she’s lost her wits over those hell-raising boys. That’s the beauty of this basket—it can remind the recipient of the best parts of themselves when they most need to hear it.
Like my sister, Brett. She got a basket that same Christmas and she read the notes, but she wasn’t able to receive them. At that time in her life, her heart was too broken and her mind too drugged to feel love. Here’s how she explained the gift of the 52 Things Basket many years later:
When I had returned from Rehab (for the umpteeeenth time) I lay in bed and wondered how I was going to do it. Stay sober, be a mother, be a wife, be a daughter, be a friend, be an individual with self-confidence and get up and carry on. While I lay there crying, I looked up to see a wicker basket that I hadn’t noticed in a long time. It was sitting on a dust-covered bookcase waiting…and waiting. I couldn’t remember what was in that basket and why on earth I thought it should be in my bedroom, of all places. Slowly, I composed myself and began to remember, what were the treasures inside?