There have been so many gifts I have received over the years, but I find that the sweetest ones are symbolic––like people and a good story, these gifts have many layers. This holiday season, enjoy putting a bit more thought into your gift by selecting something symbolic either in the gift itself or perhaps in the wrapping and timing of your gift. 

It is a tradition this time of year to give Paper Whites, also known as Narcissus Flowers. Since they are one of the earliest flowers to bloom in the spring, they symbolize that the icy cold of winter will not last forever. Bringing these symbols of life and beauty into your winter world during the Winter Solstice, when darkness is at its height, is a great way to tell someone that you love them. What a beautiful reminder to a friend that might be experiencing difficulty this time of year to know that spring is coming, wishing them good luck, happiness, renewal, and the promise of their own new blooms. 

Gifts of light in the darkest of seasons is also a wonderfully symbolic way to celebrate the Winter Solstice and also symbolize the birth of Jesus. Gifts of Yule Logs are burned through Christmas to bring light to dark times. The custom began long before medieval times and had Nordic origins. The gift of the Yule Log, originally a whole tree, would ceremoniously enter the home and be placed in the fireplace even though the rest of the tree would stick out into the room! The lighting of the log involved using the ashes from the previous tree. Today, we can simply gift arrangements we make with candles to illuminate the darkness and shower light on those we love. 

Or perhaps you’d rather give something even more intimate, like a scent. An article in The Telegraph called Why choosing the right scent for a loved one makes the perfect gift, fragrance and lifestyle expert for Jo Malone London, Emma South has this to say, “When most people think about their very first fragrance it was probably chosen for them by someone close to them. It’s a very personal gift. Because you don’t have the other person’s nose there with you, you have to think about their personality and what they like. You have to express them in scent, and because you have to think that bit harder, it makes it all the more thoughtful. The fragrance you choose for someone tells them something about what they mean to you and how you see them.” 

The scents themselves have so much symbolism also. Inspired by the scent of tenderness his mother symbolized, Roja Dove went on to become known as the Prince of Perfume. In an interview he conducted with World Travel Magazine he takes symbolism to new heights when speaking about his signature fragrance. “It goes simply by the name ROJA and includes a little luxury mixed with a little sense of humor, as the gold floating in the formula is actually a cheeky nod to the quality of the raw materials that make up the scent. The gold is the cheapest ingredient in the liquid.” 

I love scents and their meanings. Jo Malone, the iconic British perfumer, and one-time florist created scents from the garden with flowers like peony, woodsage, bluebell, freesia, mimosa, and lavender––all having unique meanings with peony meaning happy marriage and compassion; bluebell symbolizing humility and gratitude; and lavender indicating grace and elegance.

But there is no need for the extravagant. I think the sweetest gifts are of personal stories given to family members, particularly those discovered amidst the belongings of loved ones that have past. Enjoy the spirit of the season with an added layer to your giving filled with profound messages, ones that keep on giving throughout the years.

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