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sword

THE GREATEST GIFT SINCE SLICED BREAD

swordBy Ray Lucas

Don’t you love it when you receive a surprise gift that blows you away? It doesn’t happen as often for me as an adult, but I remember as a child receiving memorable gifts that were not only unexpected but turned out to be something I didn’t know I needed, and that suddenly completed me.

For Christmas one early year, I received a drum set – and it was awesome! I didn’t realize that I needed these drums until I had received the set from Santa, and then it was perfectly clear that I should have been banging on them for years. A few years later, I was awed by the gift of an Evil Knievel motorcycle jump set, complete with the Evil Knievel action figure in his star spangled cape.

More recently, my wife tracked down the folks who make maple syrup-flavored cotton candy at a local winter festival and had them make me a special batch for my birthday. I look forward to this particular treat each year for months prior and will buy a dozen bags of the delicious candy at the annual Maple Syrup Festival. So, to receive it as a gift out of season was unexpected and something I didn’t realize I needed.

These are the best kind of gifts: ones that take us by surprise. Gifts from loved ones who know us better than we know ourselves. They’re gifts that remind us of a need that we didn’t even know we had.

Don’t get me wrong, not every gift has to be some type of haiku experience to be appreciated. I recently received gift cards to Chick-fil-A and to the New Albanian from friends who well know my love languages (fried chicken and craft beer). Yes, they were gift cards, but they also were thoughtful expressions of appreciation by people who know what I love.

With that said, I find myself too often falling into the practical gift trap of buying a gift card to Lowes or a Visa one. These gifts are very practical and, I’m sure, appreciated but will soon be forgotten and don’t say all that I mean to say when giving a gift. Maybe they are OK for an occasional graduation gift, but I feel I can do better for a loved one’s wedding or a dear friend’s birthday. I, for one, need to step up my gift-giving game.

I found myself reflecting on the state of gift giving after a recent birthday gathering with friends. I had told my wife I didn’t need a party, but she assured me that I did. We met at a local pub, Pints and Union. As friends gathered, they overwhelmed me with gifts of rare craft beers, fashionable bourbons and even three pounds of bacon. “Beer, Bourbon and Bacon” – sounds like some wonderful music festival I should get tickets to this summer, regardless of the lineup.

Other friends shared unique gifts of safari hats, AA batteries (there’s a story there) and a bonfire cake right out of the Ace of Cakes show that all spoke of how well they know me.

But the most intriguing gift of the night came in a long, slender box that screamed Red Rider BB gun. When the time came to open the box, I pulled at the paper, ripped open the box and stood in awe as the gift came into full view. It was a three-foot Samurai Sword protected by a decorative sheath of black and yellow.

Like Ralphie from the classic Christmas Story movie, I smiled and momentarily dreamed of villains in my backyard that I could vanquish with this powerful sword in my grip. An eruption of cheers went out at the party as I held the sword above my head. Just as it had been with the drums from Santa, I was overwhelmed by this unexpected gift that I didn’t know I needed and that had suddenly completed me.

Walking out of the pub that night with the sword in my hand, I could feel the other patrons’ eyes upon me as they asked each other at their tables, “Is that guy carrying a sword?” I have never felt like such a badass.

Is a Samurai sword practical for a middle-aged banker?

Um, no.

Does it make sense to have a sword in my home, given young, curious children who have already asked to test its ability to cut their PB&J sandwich into diagonal halves?

Probably not.

Does this sword, straight out of the Kill Bill movies, complete me?

You betcha.


“JUST AS IT HAD BEEN WITH THE DRUMS FROM SANTA, I WAS OVERWHELMED BY THIS UNEXPECTED GIFT THAT I DIDN’T KNOW I NEEDED AND THAT HAD SUDDENLY COMPLETED ME.”


And was this sword the best gift I received that night?

Not even close.

The greatest gift I received that night wasn’t revealed to me fully until the next morning as I scrolled through photos my wife had taken during the prior evening’s celebrations. Embedded in the party images was a reminder that the greatest gift, even if not completely unexpected, was the company of loved ones who had gathered with me to celebrate another year of a life in progress.

Laughing, sharing stories and celebrating with family and friends, some of whom I’ve known since sharing the same babysitter at three years old, was a gift that I wasn’t even aware that I needed, but that suddenly completed me.

It was the gift of love and time together that even gift cards can’t buy.

By the way: the aforementioned sword is not only the best thing since sliced bread – it is the best thing to slice bread.

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2017 Holiday Gift Guide

The holiday season is quickly approaching. According to the National Retail Federation, more than half of shoppers start to research and plan their gifts in October, if not earlier, though by December most of us still have plenty of holiday shopping left to do. To help you get a jumpstart, we’ve featured a few of our favorite local finds. But don’t just take our word for it. Go out and frequent these locally-owned establishments now and take the hustle ’n‘ bustle out of this holiday season.


screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-3-51-25-pmSapphire Boutique

Sapphire Boutique, which has locations in Jeffersonville and New Albany, carries the latest fashions, accessories and gifts for women and babies. Follow us on Facebook @sapphireonspring and Instagram @sapphire_boutiques.

Julie Gionatti is wearing a Pink multi color sweater dress by BCBG, Black button front rain dress by BCBG, handbag by Sondra Roberts.

Rachel Shipton is wearing a ruffle sleeve suede dress by Olivaliceous, Handbag by Sondra Roberts.

Both models wearing various styles and brands of jewelry.

326 Spring St., Jeffersonville

812.920.0017

154 E. Main St., New Albany

812.725.0900

Facebook/SapphireonSpringBoutique


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Lavender Hill

At Lavender Hill, we strive to make our customers very, very happy. We offer daily deliveries to both residential and business locations. Our knowledgeable staff is here for you, be it a celebration, loss of a loved one, wedding or our favorite – for no reason at all. We’ll guide to towards the perfect florals or fine specimen plant, or pop into the shop to find the perfect piece of jewelry, scarf or artisan gift.

359 Spring St., Jeffersonville | 812.288.2388 | lavenderhillflorals.com


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Madhouse

Whether you’re selecting a special gift, entertaining, or just need a little room refresh in your life, Madhouse is here to help. You will not be disappointed in the variety and uniqueness within this specialty shop that truly caters to any price range.

151 E. Spring St., New Albany | 812.924.7728 | madhousena.com


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The Olivet

Locally owned and operated and situated in the beautifully developed Underground Station in the charming historic river town of New Albany, The Olivet is the only olive oil tasting emporium in the Southern Indiana area and offers the community a wonderful selection of ultra premium, extra virgin olive oils, hand selected from California groves, aged balsamic vinegars, whole spices and herb blends, Italian artisan pastas and sauces, handmade chocolates and truffles, a wide array of specialty and gourmet food items, and beautifully handcrafted, unique gifts. They also offer private tasting parties and specialize in custom gift baskets.

37 Bank St., New Albany | 812.913.4430 | www.theolivet.com


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The Office Cigar Lounge

Kick back in big, comfy easy chairs and enjoy a cigar with your buds in the cigar lounge. There are hundreds to choose from in the huge walk-in humidor, as well as cigar and pipe accessories – plus we have a large selection of pipes and pipe tobacco – to keep you puffing and happy.

3700 Paoli Pike, Floyds Knobs | 812.993.0445 | www.theofficecigarlounge.com


screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-3-52-18-pmACE Hardware

New Albany Ace Hardware is locally owned and happy to serve our community for more than 81 years. What better gift to yourself or someone special than a new grill! New Albany Ace Hardware offers a full range of grills – including Big Green Eggs, Traeger and Weber – and accessories – for the outdoor chef on your gift list. We also offer a variety of other items, just right for stocking stuffers and more. Plus, we receive new items every week. Follow us on Facebook by searching “Ace Hardware of New Albany.”

1905 Charlestown Road, New Albany | 812.945.6633. | www.acehardware.com & search “New Albany” in the store locator


screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-3-52-29-pmMESA

MESA is a state-of-the-art, collaborative kitchen-classroom, featuring demonstrations by established and aspiring chefs from Southern Indiana and Louisville. The collaborative space offers cooking classes and demonstration, and also houses a bookstore, pantry, to-go cooking dinners, cookware boutique, aprons, toys for little ones and more. Stop by to pick up a gift for aspiring chefs of all ages or easily purchase a gift card for that special someone on our website.

216 Pearl St., New Albany | 812.725.7691 | www.mesachefs.com


screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-3-52-44-pmHim Gentleman’s Boutique

Him Gentleman’s Boutique is a one-stop shop for every man. We provide all styles ranging from everyday casual to looking your best on a night out. Want to try a new look? Not sure how to work certain trends into your wardrobe? We are here for all your styling needs.

314 Pearl St., New Albany | 812.924.7441 | www.himgb.com


screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-3-52-56-pmTop Shelf Tactical

Come and experience a different firearm retail experience. We are committed to the highest quality products, the most competitive prices and 100 percent customer satisfaction. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook – @topshelftacticalfirearms – for our weekly specials throughout the holiday season.

37 Bank St. Suite 7, New Albany | 812.725.1115 | www.topshelftactical.com


screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-3-53-04-pmStrandz and Threadz

Threadz has many fashions to offer, including trendy clothing, scarves, purses and accessories, plus we carry gift items like signs, teas, candles, local items, seasonal items and more! Strandz is an AVEDA concept salon and full-service spa. So, you can complement your new outfit with a new hairstyle, blowout or add some highlights!

322 Vincennes St., New Albany | 812.945.5480 | www.strandzandthreadz.com


screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-3-53-12-pmLL&A Interior Design

Celebrate Your Space!

247 Spring St., Jeffersonville | 812.282.6606 | www.leslielewisdesign.com