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Holiday Gift Guide

Ideas especially for those living with diabetes

I’m making my list… and checking it twice. This year, I’m especially interested in gifts that encourage creativity, whether in the form of music, books, or works of art. Creatively focused offerings feel more lasting and meaningful to me, and I hope they will create memories and emotions that last beyond the holiday season. Here are a few of my favorites for this holiday season:

For Adults

I’d be happy to find nineteen-year-old singer Nikki Lang’s latest album, Feel Better, in my stocking. Her soulful music reminds me of a modern-day Joni Mitchell while, to my mind, her lyrics of self-discovery and empowerment echo Alanis Morissette. Lang, who is living with type 1 diabetes, writes that she tries to “create music from my heart,” and hopes that “those who listen can see and feel that as well, and relate to it.” In 2012, Lang donated proceeds from downloads of her song “Feel Better” to the American Diabetes Association. She says when she is feeling down, writing songs helps her to feel better.

Ana Morales’s contemporary oil paintings are emotionally rich and aesthetically engaging, and in my opinion, make an original gift idea. Morales lives with type 1 diabetes and says that for her, making art is an emotional healing process. She has a wide range of subjects, from landscapes to portraits, but her paintings often depict realistic scenes created in loose brushstrokes with vivid colors.

Artwork by Ana Morales

"Thank You," artwork by Ana Morales
Artwork by Ana Morales, 36 x 48 in (top) and 28 x 22 in (bottom)

Says Morales: “I play around with a variety of subjects, styles, and media, but I love painting the most, especially with oils. I aim for texture and inviting color combinations. In my attempts to channel my emotions through my work, my paintings usually turn out pretty expressive.” She thinks about diabetes a lot when it comes to her work. “In my painting class this semester, my goal was to illustrate my diabetes-related fears in a subtle way through my paintings.” Read more about Morales’s art and inspiration here.

Several years ago, I bought my husband a pair of L.L Bean1 Wicked Good Slippers for Christmas, and have been jealous ever since. I thought that buying him these top-quality, scrumptiously soft slippers would inspire him to do the same for me, but I’m still waiting. I’ll give the gift of warmth to a loved one or two with a pair of toasty Wicked Good Slippers this year.  I’m sure the favor will be returned one of these days – what goes around, comes around, right?

The Ninja® Professional Blender is as fun to use as it sounds, and it’s a useful gift for almost any adult on your list. I like the Ninja Pro for making shakes, dips, party drinks, soups, sauces, and juices. It has an extra large (72 oz.) pitcher so you can make enough for the whole family in one go; the pitcher, lid, and blades are also dishwasher-safe. It’s an especially good gift for anyone looking to incorporate some more healthful shakes and soups into their daily meal plan.

For Kids

The children on your list may already be clamoring for specific presents, but I have a few ideas you may find as rewarding to give as the kids will be happy to receive.

For children living with diabetes, seeing themselves reflected in a book may be both encouraging and comforting, and may help them know they are not alone. I know I wish I’d had Getting a Grip on Diabetes: Quick Tips & Techniques for Kids and Teens as a teen diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. In the book, brothers Spike and Bo Loy, now in college, offer practical tips for kids and teens growing up with type 1 diabetes. Co-written with physicians Janet Silverstein and Marc Weigensberg, this book is easy to read, inspirational, and informative. For younger readers, consider giving Jacob’s Journey, Living with Type 1 Diabetes, a beautifully illustrated book that offers positive, yet not overwhelming information appropriate to younger age levels. As an added gift, a part of the proceeds from the sale of every book goes to JDRF.

Even during the holidays, it can feel tough to get my three sons off the computer and into the game-playing spirit, but Array™, a card game that has become one of my favorite gifts, gives me hope for my family’s game-playing future. Array involves connecting the cards to create an array of colors and is played in quick-moving rounds, with players placing multi-colored cards next to others with matching colors. The game challenges multiple ages with its blend of creativity and smarts, and even looks festive as you play.

Wishing you all happy holidays!

Amy Stockwell Mercer is a freelance writer with type 1 diabetes living in Charleston, SC. She blogs at re-Defining Diabetes and her work can be found in a variety of publications including Charleston Magazine, The City Paper, Diabetes Health, and Literary Mama. Amy Stockwell Mercer is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor and interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.

1L.L. Bean is a registered trademark.

© 2012 The DX: The Diabetes Experience

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