Reverb Broads 2011, December 24: Name your top 5 best holiday gifts given or received. Who gave it to you? Who were you giving it to? Why was it memorable? (courtesy of Kassie at http://bravelyobey.blogspot.com) and December 25: Silent Sunday–Just post a picture that represents your day.
It’s not that I don’t love getting presents, or that I don’t get awesome ones from the folks who love me. But the most memorable Christmases have been the ones when I really nailed it with a gift for someone else. Those moments are the Holy Grail of gift giving for me, and I’ve drunk from the cup a time or two.
My most triumphant moment as a gift giver was my first Christmas home from college. Lawrence, KS is a great, quirky town with an awesome downtown shopping and eating district on Massachusetts Avenue. And for the first time, since I was living away from home, I didn’t have to worry about hiding presents–I was practically drunk with the freedom. That year, I found the perfect things for absolutely everyone in my family. They weren’t big or extravagant, but they were Exactly Right.
My grandpa used to take us for nature walks in the birch woods on the cliffs along Lake Michigan, so I got him a little birch bark box. I filled it with the kind of jelly beans he used to eat by the pound on all the road trips we took. I got my grandma gorgeous smelling handmade soaps. She liked them so much, she announced to everyone that she “would keep them with her undies” so they smelled nice; they stayed in that drawer for years.
I’d found a picture of Brandon Lee as The Crow at an on-campus art sale earlier that fall, and I picked up a silver frame with cutouts that showed through the black velvet backing board in a cool geometric pattern around the photo. My hardcore little sister practically swooned. I got my mom a special release Enya Christmas CD that she played all vacation. And I’m sure the presents for my brother and my dad were awesome too, but the snot monsters occupying my brain at the moment are blocking my recall.
I just remember smiling nonstop and basking in the glow of everyone’s enjoyment. They were clever, thoughtful gifts that let them know I’d been thinking of them, even while I was away in the exciting whirl of my first college semester, and I knew they would think of me when they saw those things after I’d gone back to school.
I’ve scored a few more precise hits over the years, and I love pulling off the “but how I didn’t I can’t even” surprises. My kids are incredibly gratifying recipients, too–all the manners and graciousness that eludes them in most of their day-to-day life flows freely as they gush and hug and adore every little thing, even the duplicates and the obviously lame. But never since have I managed such a perfect storm of intention and execution. How I love to keep trying, though.