Aussie dictionary and stuffed penguin - gotten completely out of the blue, sent by a fairly new friend, it cheered me up immensely. Not that I was actually down at the time, but it certainly brightened my day.
Santa book - from a much older friend, who just saw it and thought of me. Thank you, it rocked.
Beauty 1 - Is a friend, a good friend. We've known each other for years, but recently become reacquainted and have become good buddies. We've got the kind of adult relationship I'd like with more women. When I think she looks nice she's quite happy for me to say it, she knows me well enough to know it's a genuine comment, and to take it on face value. She knows it's not false flattery - my compliments come from the heart. I'm also given the freedom to comment more specifically on her body. So she's quite comfy with me saying that her breasts look amazing, or that she has a kissable belly. There's nothing physical going on, we're just friends who are comfortable with one another. She enjoys the compliments and it gives me pleasure to be able to express my appreciation for her body, without ever worrying that she thinks I'm about to go the grope.
The mini-stroke - No seriously, because it's made me completely re-evaluate my life and what I was doing. It made me start my business, which brings me a great deal of joy. It's made me slow down on long trips and ensured that I stopped and looked around more often than just getting obsessed with the destination. It's made me step back and take note of how lucky I am (it could have left me half-paralyzed), of how willing my friends are to help me, of lots of things. It indirectly started me doing the Love and Hate posts which have been a really useful exercise in breaking away from self-censorship and in some cases actually figuring out why I felt the way I did. And because of the damage to my brain, and the subsequent re-routing, I now remember names way better than I used to - which is not going to get old any time soon :)
Beast 1 - Just a top bloke, who it's been my pleasure to get to know better the last few years. One of the truly special people in my life.
My friends - who have kept an eye on me at cons and outings and regularly asked whether I needed to rest, or carried things for me, or got things for me. Thanks folks, it really helps.
Hespa - We've become such close friends and the gift she gave me was her company across the Nullarbor. The single best travelling companion I've ever had.
Last Nullabor Trip - The return trip, travelling slowly and on my own gave me opportunity to re-evaluate my life. There was a baby on the way, I had had to slow down because of the stroke, and so I took my time and saw so much more of the Nullarbor than I ever had before. I also came away from the trip changed in many small but significant ways, but notably I was a lot more forthright and honest. I liked the person I came back as.
Beauty 2 - Only gotten to know her over the last 6-8 months, but we've become fast friends. I enjoy her company, and she enjoys the fact that I'll use my new bluntness abilities to tell her when she's being neurotic. She also allowed me the chance to spend a night cuddled naked with her, the purpose of which was to show her close affection and have a bloody good yak. No sex of any kind, just two people sharing space and company, enjoying skin contact. It was occasionally arousing, but both knowing it wasn't going further than cuddles and non-sexual caressing kept things light and relaxed. I'd quite forgotten how much I love doing this for the people I'm close to, it's been such a long time since the last one. And hey, I got to hold a beautiful woman all night. Two gifts in one.
Tracy - Her impending birth gave Sharon and I focus and brought us together. There was the joy of knowing we were going to be parents, and of planning our child's future. Her death, was tragic, gut wrenching and... well hell, I'm still something of a wreck.
But out of the great sadness came great love. For Sharon and I, it made our marriage so much stronger than it had ever been before, even in the beginning. It also gave us the opportunity to feel the love and compassion from so many of our friends. Of particular note have to be Lily, Lisa, and Nemo, who where there for us right at the worst of it.
It also took me from being forthright and honest, to being outright fucking blunt. Life really is too short and precious to not tell someone a hard home truth they need to hear, or to spend years too afraid to tell someone you care.
Beast 2 - Another top bloke. Funny, smart, creative, and just an all round nice guy. I've come to consider him a valued friend, and would happily cross the Nullarbor with him.
sensual_pixie - who was on LJ for a while then vanished. She wasn't the gift, though I did enjoy our brief talks, but the gift she gave me was to tell me about the negative things people said about me. During one conversation she mentioned that the way I acted seemed to confirm all she'd heard about me, including some of the bad. I asked her if she'd tell me the bad, so long as it didn't breach any confidences. My reasoning is that if I'm behaving in a way that hurts or upsets people, I want to know about so I can change it, if I can see the point.
I don't have the original email and my reply with me, so I can't remember them. But it was important to me to see how others viewed me, to see the areas in which I might have needed to mend my ways, and the areas where I went, "Yes, I do do that, and I ain't achangin'!" Everyone should have that chance and I'm grateful to sensual_pixie for giving it to me.
Beauty 3 - the most attractive woman I've met in around 10 years. Utterly radiant, creative, with a dark edge to her personality that I adore. I enjoy almost every conversation with her to a huge degree, and when she smiles I just melt.
Kali - or as I like to call her, Mega-Beast! Our relationship has grown and changed while I've been away. We've imposed some distance on it, changed some of the ways we interact, and while we still love each other deeply, things are back to reasonably manageable levels when it comes to dealing with each other.
Kali was ready to fly to Canberra for Sharon and myself at a moment's notice when we lost Tracy. I was with Kali today when it all hit me, I started howling and went to pieces. She's held me, stroked me, and basically shown me the same level of love and affection I enjoy giving to others. No sex, because that can get in the way of the affection, just letting touch relax me and make me feel loved and special.
It was nice and reminded me of why I like doing it for others - everyone should feel that safe and cared for once in a while. She's a gift every time we talk.
Sharon - Since the stroke, Sharon has proved again and again what a wonderful, caring, patient, loving, brilliant person she is. I watched her grow even more amazing (and oh-so-beautiful) while pregnant. And was amazed at the strength she showed, and still shows, after we lost our little girl. For most of our marriage, I was the strong one. Now she's got me beat hands down, all the while being the same sweet woman I fell in love with. I'm blessed to have her in my life, and twice blessed by the depth of the love we share.