Give and Let Give

For me, this is the best time of the year. That’s because I get to give with abandon.

You see, I love to give presents. In fact, my husband calls me “The Giver.” This really started at a very early age — before I had any money to buy presents, I made presents for my mom and dad and siblings. You name it, I made it — ornaments, bookmarks, cards, picture frames, even “coloring books” for my little brother and sister.

And while I love to give throughout the year — for instance, I’m the type that will see something cat-related for a cat-loving friend and will buy it for her as a random gift, or I’ll see something online I know my sister must have and will have it sent to her – the holidays are when I feel like I can really shine. I think it’s just the overall feeling this season brings, one of joy and warmth and lots of smiles.

However, being “The Giver” can have its downsides. A few years ago, rather than enjoying the holidays, I was a giant ball of stress, feeling more like Will Ferrell in “Elf” when he’s running all-crazy-like through Gimbel’s department store. That’s because every year I felt like I needed to out-do what I had given family and friends last year. I mean, I had a moniker to live up to! But now instead of being “The Giver,” I was turning into “The Grinch.”

Finally about three years ago I had a holiday epiphany of sorts — I realized I could still be “The Giver” without giving up my sanity. Instead of trying to buy the perfect present for everyone on my list, I decided to go back to what really started it all — giving gifts made with my own hands, from my heart.

Now I’m once again enjoying being “The Giver.” Two years ago, everyone on my list got homemade cookies and fudge. And last year, I had the best time ever making ornaments for my family. So not only are my loved ones getting presents that mean more than just a random sweater or knick-knack, but I’m once again remembering the true meaning of the holidays.

To help you get in the holiday spirit, we’ve asked Sonny Mayugba, John Bays, and Matt Nurge, co-owners of The Red Rabbit in Sacramento, for one of their favorite holiday cocktails. Enjoy one of these while you’re playing “The Giver” for your family and friends. Happy Holidays!

Harvey Milk 

1oz Brandy

1/2oz Aged Rum

1/2oz Galliano

1/2oz Simple syrup

1oz Half & Half

Add all ingredients to a cocktail tin (aka shaker) and shake vigorously. Double strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube (you can find king-size silicon ice molds on and grate fresh nutmeg on top.