Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

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?


PG Forte said...

awww, that nearly had me bursting into tears too! And, yes, the tall people certainly do have their uses. lol!

My most memorable Christmas gift still is the bottle of wine I received a few years ago. I had a moment of disorientation when I read the accompanying card, which indicated the sender was two of my characters who happen to own a winery. I have to admit it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out who the real 'secret santa' was.

Kelly Jamieson said...

Oh Meg, that is a great present! I'm sure I've received some great presents but the ones I remember most are the ones I gave - the ones that weren't on the list, but I knew they would love, often for my children. When my daughter was about five years old I gave her a Princess Jasmine costume - she didn't know such a thing even existed, but she loved the Disney movie Aladdin, and loved playing dressup with her friends. Her eyes went huge when she opened that present and she was so thrilled! I love seeing that reaction.

Meg Benjamin said...

Oh yeah, finding just the right thing is great. I remember when I tracked down some Star Wars glasses on eBay. My older son had some when he was little, and then he took them to college with him and someone stole (!) them. When I called him Christmas afternoon from Iowa after he'd opened them that morning in Texas, he was so excited he could hardly talk. He now keeps them under lock and key.

Kinsey Holley said...

What a sweet story, and what a sweet son.

The Hub and I started dating in Feb. In the fall of that year, we were in a Cavender's and i saw some multicolored snakeskin cowboys and fell in love. They were a couple hundred bucks and I couldn't justify the expense. A month later, he gave them to me for my birthday, which is 9 days before Christmas.

My sister and sisters in law (we share our sis in laws and bro in laws) and I don't buy gifts for each other anymore. We just buy for the kids. It's an economic necessity but I don't really mind because, frankly, I'm a lousy gift picker. The things I think are cute or funny other people usually find silly or weird...

Erin Nicholas said...

Meg, What a great kid! Probably gets it from his mom, huh? *g* I love finding just the right gift! I have one for hubby this year that I can't wait to see him open! My most memorable was a quilt that he had made for me. I'm always cold and wrapping up in blankets on the couch to watch TV, write, etc. So he had this woman handmake this quilt... picked out the colors, pattern, etc. It's beautiful... even more because he went to the trouble when he could have just bought me a Snuggie or something! :)

PG Forte said...

Uh, Kinsey...nine days before Christmas is today. Happy birthday?