Ever notice how your gift-giving priorities change the older you get? When I was a young newlywed, I was really obsessed with creativity. I wanted to find the perfect gift for each person, the one that would make them go, “Wow. However did she think of that?”
That phase lasted maybe until I had my first child. All of a sudden, I no longer had time to haunt the specialty stores. Moreover, my gift-giving creativity seemed to become duller with sleep-deprivation. When my kids were small, the rest of the family started getting a lot more stuff from Dillard’s, things I could find in a quick mall sweep without a whole lot of thinking involved.
Nowadays in my extended family, with most of our kids grown and on their way, the family’s gift-giving priorities seem to have changed again. Now the perfect gift is one that doesn’t require shelf space or dusting. In fact, the perfect gift can be consumed before New Years. Is it any wonder we fell into the habit of giving each other bottles of wine?
This year, however, my in-laws have decided to go one step further. We’re doing a “white elephant gift exchange,” meaning everybody brings a single present and leaves with a single present, preferably something you can carry one-handed. My MIL is exempt from this, by the way. Although she already has so many tchotchkes that more might make it impossible for her to get through her house, let alone dust them, she seems quite happy with each new addition. It’s the rest of us who are moving into Grinch territory.
And yet, I still like getting gifts that are just weirdly right. My most recent favorite came from my younger son, Ben. Now he may be younger, but he’s also over six-three, and I used to rely on him to reach things on top of the cupboards that I could only have pulled down with a running leap. When he moved out, he gave us a Christmas gift that was huge, heavy, and elaborately wrapped. On Christmas morning, I unwrapped a small stepladder, the kind that’s a sort of expanded step stool. On the front he had written in bold letters “Ben Lite.” Not only did I love it, I promptly burst into tears because I realized I wouldn’t have “Ben Heavy” around anymore to get things off the shelf for me.
So what’s your favorite gift? Or maybe just your most memorable?