"What are you passionate about?”

The question came near the end of my first interview for this position, and my immediate thought was of my family, naturally. “Oh, my boys, absolutely!” I exclaimed. I described my adoration of Keith and Nate, 4 and 1 respectively, and their daddy, John. And, although I can’t be sure (nerves abounded), I think I might’ve referred to them as my three boyfriends. Feeling immediately that this was perhaps the expected response, I quickly scanned my brain to arrive at a more “unique” pasttime. Then it hit me.

“And… I like to give the perfect present,” I added. I then began confessing everything about this compulsion.

I take gift-giving so earnestly that I maintain a spreadsheet organized from immediate family to tertiary acquaintances. If, when in my presence, you mention something you like, you can be sure I’ll return to my desktop that evening to enter it for future reference. It’s worth noting that I understand how this might be viewed as a bit excessive. (As does my husband—I’ve returned to my file to find funny notes he’s inserted in the margins, including “Warning: May contain OCD.”)

So here I am. I began my career as an editor and writer for local publications and know that my background in community journalism landed me here. I also know why I was tapped to write this issue’s feature, “30 Days of Giving (Not Getting).” This collection of unique ideas for giving outlines simple gestures of kindness and generosity that are what make the holiday season so fabulous. Such expressions of endearment can sometimes be lost in the hustle and bustle, so we hope to spark your imagination with ways to demonstrate to the special people in your life just how special they are. No spreadsheets necessary.

I’m thrilled to be here and look forward to supplying material that helps nurture our (New Jersey) families. Please feel free to email me at editor@njfamily.com to let us know what you’d like to see in our pages. Oh, and if you want to know what I got my brother for Christmas 2008, shoot me a line and I’ll check my Excel chart and report back.