Gifts to Ourselves, January Theme by Tamera Wissinger

Just after the holidays I put away the decorations and began tidying up around the house. Soon I was deep cleaning all of the bookcases. It’s not the most exciting job, but I do enjoy “visiting” my books and keepsakes. This time around the book that caught my attention was BEAUTIFUL GEMS OF THOUGHT AND SENTIMENT. This version has a 1901 copyright and was printed by C.W. Stanton Company, Chicago. I believe it was edited by Henry Davenport Northrop since he’s credited with editing the 1890 version with the same title. This is mostly a poetry anthology broken into sections like THE CHARMS OF NATURE, DESCRIPTIONS AND TALES OF THE SEA, ALBUM OF LOVE, THE SWORD AND THE PLOW. I love it for the poetry and for the way it freezes time and invites a look backward.

This time, though, when I opened the pages I noticed something new. Here tucked inside was a message from the book’s original owner:
These words:

Presented To: Leta ElCrepps 
By: Herself 
Xmas, Dec, 25, 1901 

sent a small tingle up my arms and to my heart. In 1901 sweet Leta gave herself a Christmas present. I haven’t been able to find out any information on Leta ElCrepps, nor am I even certain that’s the correct spelling of her name. But what a gift! This book is over 500 pages, with silver and gold pressed into the cover. I imagine in 1901 a book like this would have been a splurge. Why would Leta have done that for herself? Was she a poet? A student? A romantic? I may never know, but what I believe is that Leta cared for herself enough to give herself a marvelous Christmas present.

And now 115 years later Leta’s note and present to herself are a gift to me – my first 2016 epiphany: Remember to treat yourself. It’s a practice that I’d like to adopt in 2016.

Presented to: Tamera Wissinger 
By: Herself 
New Year, January 14, 2016

…that has a nice ring.

Wishing you a blessed and gift-filled New Year. (And hello from the past if you are a poet reading this 115 years from now in 2131. Go buy yourself a present; Leta and Tamera said it's okay.)


Tamera Wissinger writes stories and poetry for children including Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse, This Old Band, and There Was An Old Lady Who Gobbled a Skink (out next month!) and Gone Camping: A Novel in Verse (arriving next year!) You can connect with Tamera online at her website, on Twitter, or on Facebook.


  1. Oh, how precious is this! I have an affirmation I keep on my bulletin board: "Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong." Giving oneself a book is one way to nurture and nourish ourselves, isn't it? Thank you, Tamera!

    1. Thank you, Irene. What a wonderful affirmation. Yes, nourishment and nurturing through the gift of books!

  2. The little tidbits you find inside a vintage book are often every bit as fun as the book! Happy New Year!

  3. I FOUND HER!!! Looked at her signature and I read it to be Leta E. Crepps:
    She's Leta E. Crepps - married March 9, 1904 to Emmanuel Lehmann in Aurelia, Cherokee, Iowa
    Her father was Fredrick Crepps. The E stands for "Edna". She had two other siblings....
    Exciting! Check it out!!!

    1. Thank you so much for this information, Donna. You're really talented at figuring out Leta's beautiful cursive writing. I'll see if I can find out more about Leta.

  4. Also her daughter died in 2009...Put in a search for Lena Crepps! I have to stop looking now. It is addictive. I love genealogy!


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