For me, there is nothing better than giving the perfect gift, something you know the person will love whether it is useful, hilarious, beautiful, luxurious, or reassuring [For the record, my best gift in recent memory was an underwater metal detector for my sister.]. This does not always make gift-giving easy though; I can easily get caught up in “analysis paralysis” and talk myself out of good and bad ideas. It makes teaching my daughter how to be a gift giver difficult. My fall-back is always something handmade – we have given lots of art work, ornaments, photographs, and jewelry. I love these gifts, because they do not require an outlay of money and invariably the recipient smiles.

Over Thanksgiving, my cousins’ seventh grade daughter shared with me her assigned “memoir” about a summer visit they made to Vermont from suburban Boston. My daughter and I love when people come to Vermont, and we get to rediscover what makes it so special to live here. We had the best afternoon with them – we went on a lovely hike to a waterfall with a yummy picnic and then went back to their hotel to swim in the pool, where I had a nap and the kids had ice cream. Something for everyone!

After reading her memoir-writing assignment, I was reminded how amazing it is to think about how we can live the same experience and it can mean something so different. Sabrina let me reproduce an excerpt from her memoir, because I loved it – she was spot-on with the dialogue, the ambience, the personalities, and added the right amount of humor, plus a moral.  


Hiking at Bingham Falls

By: Sabrina Licata

…Dad was in a deep conversation with Meredith while Zoey sped ahead of us, eager to explore more of the trail. I chuckled, Zoey was always this energetic, and she reminds me of myself when I was her age…[Zoey is 10]

I caught up to the rest of the group, their backs were facing me, blocking whatever it is they’re looking at from my sight. My body moved on its own, so I let it. I walked over to Mom’s side, my eyes widened like saucers when I saw what they were focusing their lines of sight on.

It was Bingham Falls. The waterfall we were aiming to visit today. The sight was miraculous. A huge rock came into my line of sight, as I heard Meredith speak.

“How about this spot?” She asked, a chorus of non-protesting replies were all that I heard. Mom put down our food as all of us sat down on the rock that I saw only a few minutes ago. We got our sandwiches out of the bag and began to eat our lunches. [see photo – Sabrina is on the left in the middle]

After a long hour of talking and eating, we decided it was time to head back. But, the journey back to the car didn’t go as smoothly as the trip to the sight we were at earlier. I almost slipped off an edge we were climbing, if I didn’t manage to pull myself up as I did I would’ve fallen.

So, from today’s events, I’ve learned a lesson, never judge a trip by the description your parents give you because you never know how fun hikes could be.



As I have negotiated the gift-giving season, this story has lingered in the back of my mind. This August afternoon was a perfect gift – special company with a simple, unhurried plan, stunning scenery, and a magical, lasting, written story. I wish I could give everyone a gift this meaningful.

The CLiF staff joins me in wishing you and those special to you a happy holiday season and New Year filled with simple pleasures and stories of all kinds.

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