By Anjanette Barr, Contributing Writer
Nothing can completely take away the sorrow of saying goodbye to a beloved community and making a new home elsewhere, but earlier this year when my family set off on our grand adventure (Kansas City to ALASKA!), our friends certainly made an impressive effort to comfort us and smooth our transition!
Even though we were excited about seeing and doing new things, and our move was completely by choice, there were days both before and after we relocated that my heart was just plain heavy. I miss my friends. I miss the midwest. Growing roots in a new place can be emotionally taxing.
I am so very thankful for the thoughtful gifts that we received as we left. Some of them were practical and helped with the moving process, and some were sentimental and continue to buoy my spirit on rough days. Here are a few of my favorites:
My mentor put these together for my children with the help of hers. One for my 5 year old boy, and one for my 3 year old girl. They were wonderful for the cross-country car ride! And I love that they used backpacks instead of something less durable because my two little ones love playing with them and toting them around even though we homeschool!
The backpacks were filled with sticker books, Mr. Potato head dolls, magnetic toys, activity books, and we threw in some story books and snacks. They would be perfect gives for any move since kiddos usually need occupied while parents load and unpack.
Photo Books and Albums
This may seem an obvious choice, but it is still one of the most meaningful in my opinion. My friends made a photo book (which you can order from lots of popular websites and have delivered to their new address – ours was from Shutterfly.com) full of photos from our last 8 years in our church community. They also included a sort of “friend directory” with recent family photos of each of the friends we were leaving behind. I find myself flipping through it almost weekly.
Other friends gave us an album full of photos of my children’s friends with messages they had dictated to their parents, “Have fun in Alaska. Say hi to a moose!” It is so nice to have these memories without having to carve out the time to record them myself with everything else on my plate!
No, not “autograph books.” Books that are books in and of themselves, that your friends write messages in. My friends purchased a copy of Dr. Suess’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go…” and took turns writing an encouraging note on each page. I love reading this to my children and thinking about the friends who gifted it.
State/Region Themed Gifts
It’s nice to have something from the past in a visible place. A map, or a landscape photo. We have photos from our time spent studying abroad (Oxford and Nagoya) framed in our living room and they are great conversation pieces. The photo to the left is actually a wall hanging I made for another friend who moved about a year before us. Gotta love Pinterest inspiration! The heart is Kansas City 🙂
Visa Gift Cards and Gas Cards
Praise God for practical help! Don’t hesitate to give this kind of gift! It may feel generic but there are SO many unexpected expenses with moving! We were abundantly blessed by the people who gave of their financial resources to support us on our journey. It was a huge stress relief to know we had a bit of a buffer.
Stationary & Stamps
Another practical gift that might even give back! I love sending letters, and I am much more likely to remember to if I’m looking forward to using pretty paper. Stamps have been a longtime favorite gift of mine as well. We received a couple of books of stamps as a wedding gift and it just struck me as one of THE best practical gifts ever! It’s easy to forget to budget for postage, and we used a lot of it during the season of thank you cards (wedding, birth of babies).
What about you? Have you relocated recently or given a goodbye gift to a friend that was well-received?