Now that the major gifting overload season is complete, many presents newness worn off and returns complete, I have been thinking a lot about gifts. How sometimes it is the unexpected gifts that linger in our brains. The gifts that will mean nothing to people when they finally clean out my cabinets, the stories of my life my past that will be overlooked, items’ special memories now dissipated.
There are sweet gifts that our children make, the treasures our aging parents pass along, handmade items by friends, gift cards galore, the not-perfect choice but we can see the effort was made, a kind word, a plate of homemade cookies.
There are hostess gifts, gift exchanges with friends, surprise gifts from unexpected visitors, expected but appreciated gifts, the mundane sometimes elevated, the needed disguised in pretty packages, more gift cards, time savers, jokes and promises of great memories yet to be.
Then there are the gifts that aren’t really gifts for us,they are gifts for the giver–the “donation” an increasing numbers of vendors make in “my” name (get real! This is a tax write-off for you, one less chore for someone at your firm to really say “thanks for the business this year”), lingerie and oils from a spouse in all their taste, the re-gift (new, used, wilted, cracked, with a card inside), new items given by people who live with me since my items obviously don’t meet their expectations (new floor mats and serving spoons), gifts that clearly show how little you know me (a ham for the vegetarian?) but I will share at a family party, the no-gift with an empty promise to “get it to you later”, the repeat gift (“didn’t you give that to me last year?”).
Smile, accept them all, hope for a gift receipt to return the unwanted, open the next box. And will we find something we do not want, but we know someone who will love it?
I am certain to have forgotten a myriad of gifts–both the inspired and the should-be invisible. Think about your most unfavorite gift. And the one that could be overlooked by others that sticks with you long after receipt: for me it is a coffee mug that always brings a smile, given to me at the end of a charity event I chaired publicity for, back in college. It has a poem about success, and when given to me the chair people said it was “because they knew there had to be a sentimental bone in my body somewhere.” It is the mug I search for when I drink my tea, still inspiring me each use. And now, when someday someone cleans out my cabinets maybe they will understand what this faded mug means to me. C