The Afternoon Tea Collection from The Australian Women's Weekly

Day 16: #joyfulgiving366 – family, friends, toys and clothes

How much do you think this book is worth? Read on to find out.

I’m blessed with the love of beautiful friends and family. And part of that love is, I believe, about valuing and support those relationships.

A friend in need is a friend indeed

Yesterday morning my friend Trish gave me a special gift – a gift of support. I have long wanted to donate blood, but I have a phobia about it. I’ve tried to donate before and had a panic attack and didn’t even make it beyond filling out the questionnaire. One of my aims after leaving full-time work was to face this fear and donate.

Trish understood this was hard for me, so she picked me up, drove me there, and talked me through it. In the end, I couldn’t donate because I had been feeling a bit unwell and was disqualified. But by her being there for support, it brought down the walls of fear. Next time it won’t be as scary.


Later,I lunched with my inlaws. Knowing I am heading off to Spain this week to see their son, my mother-in-law suggested I catch up for lunch. Not only was it good to catch up, but the best news of all is that (following surgery pre-Christmas) tests have confirmed that she is healthy and cancer-free.

I was having dinner with a group of friends, and the topic of men introducing their girlfriends to their family came up. When is an appropriate time? Can it be too early? Or do most men these days ‘stash’ (i.e. date but keep you separate from family?)

In my case, Neil told all of his family the first week (although he kind of forgot to tell his twin sister first – doh). And then I met most of his close family during the second week. Unlike me, he has lots of family in Canberra – 48 first cousins in fact. “I’m envious that you have family here because I don’t,” I told him. “Well, you do now – you’ve got all of my family,” he said. Awwww. I knew then that he was a keeper.

My parents-in-law regularly childmind two of their grandsons. They are adorable little boys. I give them clothes, toys and other things that my sons have grown out of. Their eldest grandson (who is four) especially likes getting clothes from my boys – he imagines he is like my seven-year-old and feels all grown up.

Today I came to lunch with a bag full of three things:

  1. A memory card matching game;
  2. A Lola and Charlie floor puzzle; and
  3. An IKEA indoor kids tent.

All three of these items were presents from other people. The floor puzzle was posted (!) from Sydney by the sister of a friend. My kids LOVED unpacking the box almost as much as they enjoyed playing with the puzzles.

The play tent was a present from their Filipino nanny, Marissa, who looked after them when we lived in Taiwan. She doted on my two boys and insisted on buying them things. (No, we tried not to discourage this as we were concerned about her spending most of her salary on toys and stuff for them. But she was a generous soul and would not be dissuaded.) Marissa, if you are reading this my boys still remember the love you had for them. Know that this tent will now be used for two other cute little boys, who will have fun in their new indoor cubby house.

Afternoon tea with a girlfriend

I was home hurriedly putting out some washing, contemplating unfinished writing tasks and thinking about heading to pick up my boys from their school holiday program when I heard the intercom in my apartment buzz. My friend Melissa had decided to pop by after work to visit me.

Melissa was one of the first friends I made when I moved to Canberra in 2000. She is an elegant, Audrey Heburnesque woman who has a quiet and stylish sense of calm. Now that she has two young sons (younger than mine), we find it harder and harder to find the time to meet. But her parents are on holiday kid minding and so she was free to stop by.

I felt a bit embarrassed by the (still messy) state of my apartment. But the thing about good friends is that they see beyond the clutter. Soon, I had the kettle on and we sat down to tea in my favourite china teacups and some slices of Christmas cake.

The reason for Melissa’s visit was that she had a bag of clothes for me. Yep, more clothes:) They were given by a friend of her mum’s, who is a similar size to me. And she has exceptionally good taste. I loved, loved, loved a warm brown tartan cheque Perri Cutten coat that she gifted me. Wow.

“I don’t have anything to gift you that I think you need,” I said.

“No matter,” she said. “I’m decluttering and I don’t need anything.”

Then I walked to my bookcase and randomly picked out a pretty Women’s Weekly book on afternoon tea. I got it second hand from somewhere, and I like to flick through it but have never cooked from it.

“Perhaps you would like this?”

It turned out that she knew the cookbook well. She had borrowed it several times from her local library and baked a cake for her husband – who loved it. She’d even bought the book as a present for a family member. But she had never bought it for herself. I could tell she had always wanted a copy for herself.

As I was researching this blog post, I thought I would check to see whether they stocked this book on Amazon. And they do! There is ONE copy of this book left, and the asking price – second hand – is $1,022.62. Who would have thought! I mean, I knew it was a fabulous book but I didn’t realise I was gifting my friend something so amazing!

Feeling on a roll, I then went through my bags of clothing and found a blue and white Givoni nightdress. She said she used to wear something similar when she was young and she loved the colour. I’d had this for a few years *hoping* I might lose enough weight for it to be comfortable for me to wear at night. I also gave her an outfit that she will pass onto one of her husband’s nieces, and another dress that she said didn’t fit her so well even though she loved the style.

Givoni nightdress. My friend liked the blue and white check pattern.

Receiving more than I am giving?

Overall in the last few days, I have probably been receiving more than I am giving. Not that I aimed to do that – my aim was to give away with love and good intentions. I’m not sure if it is karma or the fact that I still am addicted to ‘stuff’, but I am finding that I am attracting more than I am giving. And for what I am attracting, I am extremely grateful.

Do you find that you tend to attract good things into your life when you practice giving? Do you find it hard to receive? Or hard to give away items?

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