Any moment now we will enter into the acceptance stage of the holiday season. The music is already being piped in. The displays are up and the ads are out. Our bodies and souls will catch up (probably around the same time we realize there really is no such thing as a perfectly browned turkey and who cares anyway, carving should be do in the privacy and sanitizing friendly confines of one’s kitchen.)
So what better way to herald in this magical time of giving than to remember holiday gifts past? There have been so many wonderful gifts over the years: the thought of them still causing me to smile. There was my first handbag (with matching scarf and hat) that made me feel terribly grown-up. I was rendered speechless by the baby bunny shyly hopping into my bedroom one Easter morning. The toys I remember most fondly were not ones I had requested but ones that were selected by people who knew me better than I did. It is these memories that fill my being with warmth and gratitude and offset the seemingly endless bestowing of dreadful gifts.
The maternity sweater (for my most definitely non-pregnant size four self), and the Winnie-The-Pooh sweatshirt (for my 35 year old self) are offset by the fabulously posh stockings a boyfriend’s brother once gave me. The countless teddy bears given by well meaning if not very imaginative boyfriends are tempered by the excruciatingly romantic gift of a Harry Connick Jr recording. For my 30th birthday my parents and brother gave me crystal champagne glasses and a Waterford ashtray; I’m not sure I had ever felt so fully understood! (To be fair my brother does have a gift giving super power that few can rival: He was still in college when he gave me a dramatic yet work-appropriate hounds tooth suit.)
It’s a ridiculous generalization but here we go: women don’t really care for gadget gifts. A VCR (back in the day) is an unromantic gift from a boyfriend (unless it comes with a stack of favorite films.) Installing a CD player in my car (and tossing the only cassette player I owned) is not such a great gift either. In fact stay away from my car. That loving gesture of a remote starter (when I lived in a cold climate)? It shorted out my car. A good rule of thumb is that if the gift comes with batteries, we’re likely to be offended (seriously; think about it.) You can run the risk of offending with the gift of; “I think you should be doing X” as well. Cross-country skis and all of the necessary accessories would be a fantastic gift if it weren’t for the fact that I’m a consummate indoorsy gal.
Some of the greatest gifts I ever received involved time. A friend once planned an entire weekend in L.A. for me (including lots of brushes with celebrities, dinner at Spago and long chats in our jammies.) A workaholic boyfriend swept me away for a surprise birthday weekend in between two business trips. Shortly before Christmas, a bronchial me spent the entire afternoon playing board games with my (non-custodial) father. These gifts of time and attention accomplish the very best intentions of gift giving. They say in a clear and distinct manner; I care about you and I’ve put thought into what would make you happy. We feel that we are seen, that those who matter most to us in fact ‘get us.’ It doesn’t get any better than that.
November 18, 2012 at 11:57 am
Thanks for writing this, it was wonderful. That’s my theme for this year, Gifts of Christmas Past. The best gifts are never practical, but are for the soul, your soul. And if the come from the heart of a loved one, they are priceless.