News in Latvia

The Holiday Swap Gift That Helped a New Mom Out

Valentine’s Day is next week, and whether or not you like the holiday, you’re sure to be charmed by our Food52 Love Connections: All week long we’ll be sharing one heart-warming story a day about connections (romantic and otherwise) fostered through our site.


Today’s story is all thanks to the Holiday Swap (our own annual, community-wide gift exchange) and the community member who organizes it, enbe (a.k.a. Noëlle)—and the fact that occasionally she can get overly involved in people’s exchanges. (Editor’s note: Her words, not ours!)

One of Noëlle’s favorite stories came as a result of letting it slip in an email to a participant (raymomn) that his swapee (beyondcelery) was due to have her baby girl at any time. As luck would have it, raymomn had just had a newborn of his own, so his Holiday Swap box included homemade apple sauce made from his father-in-law’s apple harvest and a charming onesie. She said she loves this story because of its “thoughtfulness, serendipity, and complete generosity,” and we do too. Here’s more of the backstory from beyondcelery (a.k.a. Adrienne):

How to Make Applesauce Without a Recipe
How to Make Applesauce Without a Recipe
by Elana Carlson

I told Nöelle I was due at the end of December, because I emailed her last minute about the swap, having missed the sign up, and still really wanting to participate. She had a spot, so it all worked out.

I think it was only about a week later that I went into labor 4 weeks early and spent 5 days in the hospital with my tiny, but healthy, baby girl, Hazel. It was my second or third night home when the package arrived from my swap match—I discovered they’d included a swaddler for my newborn daughter! They also gave me cooked-down apples (I think he called it “apples cooked forever”—it was really good, almost caramelly, not quite apple butter), which I saved and fed as a first food to my daughter, exactly as they said they did for their kid.

Beyondcelery's daughter, Hazel, in her Holiday Swap swaddler, and more recently, gleefully admiring her third birthday cake.
Beyondcelery’s daughter, Hazel, in her Holiday Swap swaddler, and more recently, gleefully admiring her third birthday cake.
Photo by beyondcelery

My husband had returned to work as a UPS driver during the busiest time of year, so I was alone with my new baby. They couldn’t have known what my last week had been like, so it was all the more touching they’d considered Hazel. It was one of those holiday serendipity moments you see in films, where the lights go a little brighter and out of focus as the universe clicks together.

I’ve participated in the swap from the very first and I’ll continue every year. This year, Hazel helped choose and pack some of the goodies—she’ll have even more to do next year.


Don’t miss any of our Love Connections! Find yesterday’s here.

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