When I visited my grandparents in Pennsylvania as a child, I often slept in their guest bedroom. This had been my mother’s bedroom before she left home for college and then later for marriage at nineteen. The closets in the room had a safe as well as several shelves of gifts my grandmother gave on myriad occasions throughout the year.

I buy gifts all year. Some of the gifts are earmarked for special events or the holiday season, but there are always gifts I can grab if I receive an unexpected invitation to a celebration.


I hadn’t planned on seeing my friends Jeff and Cherie during the holiday season. They live about three to four hours from me outside of Los Angeles. But when their Christmas vacation plans fell through, they wanted to get together during Christmas weekend.We decide to meet on the California coast halfway between our homes.

I didn’t have the time or energy to shop, but there were enough items in my gift box to put together small gift bags containing several items for each of them. As I prepared their presents, I thought to myself, this is a fine place. This is Joanna-Land, where there are always extra presents for others. I thought about my grandmother and felt happy.


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