That’s a wrap: KAC staffers look back on their favorite gifts

With 2014 wrapping up, the KAC team would like to end the year by spreading some holiday cheer. This is the time of year for giving and making memories: whether it’s giving your child their favorite game, taking a long awaited family trip or remembering that time your cousin ate a little too much pie. Here, we share our favorite gifts we’ve ever given and/or received.

Christmas 2008 019Lauren Beatty, communications director: The greatest gift I ever received was a cake. Sounds weird but it’s true. After I graduated from college, I moved by myself to central Illinois to take a job at a newspaper. It was the first time I had ever lived away from my friends and family. I missed everyone like crazy. When my birthday came around in January, my best friend Sarah decided to come for a visit. She wanted to bring me a birthday cake but that meant she would be saddled with a very delicate carry-on. Two plane changes and countless security clearances later, the cake – and Sarah – arrived in tact. The cake sat on her lap the whole time. Her thoughtfulness was so sweet. So was the cake. The greatest gift I ever gave went to my brother. Zack was obsessed with ramen noodles, and when he was in college they were practically the only thing he ever ate. I found a cookbook at a bookstore called “101 Things to Do with Ramen Noodles,” which I thought was pretty cool all on its own. But then I had a stroke of genius. What if I gave him the cookbook… and 101 packets of ramen? And so the greatest shopping trip of my life began. I had to go to three grocery stores, where I cleaned out their entire stocks of the $.15 soup. Then I had to find a gift bag big enough to handle them. And then I had to haul it to my parents’ house. The look on his face when he opened the bag was priceless. And he had enough ramen to last quite a while.

skateChristie Appelhanz, vice president of public affairs: My favorite gift I’ve ever received was when my aunt dropped off a wrapped present that I jingled for two weeks before Christmas. I shook that box every morning before I headed off to second grade. When I finally opened it up, I found pink and white pom-poms with a tiny bell to decorate my skates! My favorite gift I’ve given was when I told my husband we were going to brunch in Lawrence but instead drove him to the airport for a weekend trip to Nashville. He had no idea his fully packed suitcase was hidden in the trunk. It turned out to be our last trip before kids arrived, and that weekend of listening to live music ranks as one of our best times together.

April Holman, executive director of the Partnership for Early Success: Favorite gift I have received – talk about a loaded question! As the mother of four beautiful, creative children I don’t have just one favorite gift – I love all of the handmade ornaments and decorations I have received from them over the years. Favorite gift I have given – when my husband and I were first married we tried to start a new tradition of giving a small, anonymous gift to one of our family or friends each year. We chose his grandmother as the first recipient because we weren’t sure how many more Christmases we would have with her. We ordered a box of cookies and treats to be delivered to her and signed the card “from your friend, Howard Bell” hoping to create a fun mystery with the “Bell” harkening to Christmas. We didn’t plan for the beginnings of dementia to have taken hold of grandma, who was pretty sure she remembered an old admirer named Howard Bell. It seemed creepy that grandma’s admirer would give a random gift to someone else the next year so that was the end of our short-lived tradition. However, with all of the fun we had scheming that year I wouldn’t be surprised if good old Howard Bell makes a comeback one day.

Lisa Owen, office manager: I have to say my greatest gifts, my children, all arrived on or very near a holiday. Michael was born on Dec. 24, 1996, two days after our second wedding anniversary, so I call him my best anniversary present ever; and Amy was born on May 12, 1983, four days after Mother’s Day, so I call her the best Mother’s Day the best Mother’s Day present ever!

Janelle Brazington, vice president of administration: The best gift I’ve ever received is a poem about how my home is the most welcoming place. It was written by my oldest daughter and burned into a handmade wooden plaque by my son. The plaque hangs in my living room as a reminder of how home is truly where my heart is.

Rochelle Adams, operations specialist: The greatest gift that I was so excited about getting when I was about 8 or 9 years old was a purple boom box with Madonna and Def Leppard tapes that I played over and over. But the greatest non-material gift was my mother and mother-in-law providing child care for my children. I can’t think of any better gift than that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHilary Gee, director of health policy: At the end of my internship with Plan Cameroon, I received a beautiful piece of art from my co-workers. But even better than the picture – which is made of local wood and butterfly wings – was the way it was presented. My co-workers planned a going-away dinner at a local hotel and each spoke about our time together before giving me the picture. It was very touching, and the picture is now in my office at KAC. The best gift I’ve given was a surprise trip to visit a friend. Shortly after my friend Katie got engaged, my friends and I secretly planned a bachelorette weekend in Boston; everyone else lived pretty close to Boston, but I had flown out from Kansas City. When we jumped out to surprise her, she was really shocked to see me!

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