It’s that time of year when many thoughts focus on gifts; finding the perfect one; finding “the” one someone has asked for as “the only thing I want this year;” just finding anything to get it over with.
So, with all this energy being expended to shop for, pay for, wrap, and deliver all of these gifts, we sort of started wondering just what does it all mean to an individual.
We conducted a very informal and limited survey and asked our friend Ellee about her gift memories because we’ve heard some of her stories about gifts from her husband who has pretty much been let off the hook for gift buying. Ellee says they’ve been married so long that if either of them want something for a special occasion like birthday, anniversary, Christmas, or just because they got up feeling healthy in the morning, they just go out together and get it.
Sometimes, though, he still has an idea about what he wants to buy her or them and sometimes he still just does the selecting and buying all by himself. For their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary it was an ATV. Last Christmas, a dune buggy. This year it was a Wii system purchased early. All of these were so their children and grandchildren would be bribed to visit them as often as possible.
But, gifts haven’t always been for such an extended group.
For their anniversary a couple of years ago, he got her a new weed trimmer. She was having too much trouble starting her old one which had been a Christmas gift a few years earlier. Neither of these weed trimmers was the first weed trimmer Ellee had gotten as a gift. She reports that she bought herself the first one for Mother’s Day a dozen years before he got the idea to get her one when it started being difficult for her to start. So a replacement weed trimmer seems to be an easy solution to his ongoing dilemma about what to give her every few years.
Ellee says that at this stage of their lives together, he really isn’t expected to buy her anything. “But I do enjoy the memories of some of his gifts,” she says
“He’s given me three gold necklaces-all 18 inches long. He bought me three watch pins with little characters dangling from them at a book fair they had where he works and he got me a paper stapler that doesn’t use staples. He isn’t, however, totally lacking originality. Once he gave me a unicycle.”
Sometimes his gifts are excessive. One Christmas he gave her 100 dish towels because he’d gotten one out of the drawer and it was stained and tattered. At least that seemed to be a sign that he’d gotten to be more perceptive than he was when they first met.
The first Christmas they knew each other, they shopped and shopped for a radio for his grandmother. He kept asking her what style, size, and features she liked. They found the perfect radio and he bought it. She was certain he’d observed that she must surely be the only college kid on earth who didn’t own a radio. “Imagine my surprise when he gave me a bathrobe and his grandmother really did get the radio,” she says. “But, he didn’t forget it. Years later, he gave me a replica of an antique radio for Christmas.”
He’d already made up for it over the years, though. She got one of the first bread makers on the market because he saw an ad for it in an in-flight magazine. He’s given her a short wave radio, a boom box, her own CD player, a tape recorder, and all sorts of other electronic gadgets. Some of those she accepts that he selected selfishly, but some were just for her. One Christmas she got a talking teddy bear telephone; another occasion a talking Mickey Mouse telephone. In fact, he bought her first teddy bear for one of her birthdays.
For an anniversary he gave her a nifty scale that weighs something as light as a postage stamp and she says it makes a great conversation piece.
When he earns a gift at work for years of service awards or something similar, he always chooses something for her. She’s gotten a watch, binoculars (twice), and most recently a digital camera. Her first computer was an anniversary gift.
He once bought her a car for Valentine’s Day but decided it was too good for her to drive 500 miles a week to work. He took it back and drove it himself for 10 years.
Her biggest surprise yet, however, was a maid service, but he decided he didn’t want a stranger in the house among their “things” and canceled the service before the first cleaning.
His intentions had at least been thoughtful and it makes for a topic of conversation comparable to the one about her coincidentally finding a wooden Indian at a garage sale-on his birthday-and buying it as a gift for him.
Ellee says they’ve had a lot of fun finding and giving things to each other, but it’s the no-occasion gifts that say he really knows who she is. Those are the ones she truly treasures; like the pine cone he brought her from the biggest pine tree he’s ever seen. Or, the seeds he brought home from a business trip that turned out to be…let’s just say she has a continuing need for a good weed trimmer.
Do you have a gift memory to share? We’d love to hear from you. After all, gifts have the ability to keep on giving and giving, especially if they have a lot of entertainment value.