And, I have to admit that my reaction to all this is mostly just one of bewilderment. I have such a hard time getting worked up about it - any aspect of it, because I honestly just have a really hard time believing that people actually do this sort of thing.
Perhaps I just live further on the fringes of society than I realize, but I simply can't imagine what would motivate someone to squander what, for most Americans is a rare day off from work, pushing their way through crowds at some retail establishment in the hopes of saving a few dollars on some stupid piece of junk that nobody really wants in the first place.
I mean, I can barely tolerate stores even at 10am on a workday when they're practically empty. I just cannot imagine subjecting myself to something like that.
Besides, by in large, I just can't imagine giving someone a gift that was purchased at a shopping mall. Really? Does anyone really want a new sweater, or electronic toy, or whatever other sort of schlock can be had at these places?
I dunno... call me a Grinch if you will, but I just can't get into the whole gift giving frenzy. Don't get me wrong... it's not that I don't buy a few things for the people in my life - but they're generally not the sort of thing one can get at a shopping mall. I guess I just figure that if the thing can be easily had at any retail outlet, then anyone who really wants it probably already has it.
I mean, there are exceptions of course, like getting someone something that they probably would enjoy and use, but would think was too extravagant to buy for themselves, but for the most part I think that this whole I'm gonna wander around the shopping mall until I find something that xyz person might like approach to gift giving just strikes me as completely bizarre. I dunno, somehow I guess I just think that a good gift should be a bit more personal than that.
OK... I'll start...
I think one of the most successful gifts I ever gave was the year I got CatMan an antique gold coin.
We'd read a fair number of historical accounts, and he always talked about how neat it must have been when people actually carried around gold in their pockets. We were also both coin collecting fanatics as kids, and he'd told me how he always had a fantasy about finding a gold coin with his metal detector. Anyhow, he totally loved it - I think I even saw a tear in his eye. And the bonus was that the price of gold skyrocketed shortly after I bought it so it's a gift that keeps on giving!
But a close second was the year I got CatMan an account on a mainframe computer so he could host a webpage. This was back in the 1990's when just getting on the internet was a pretty big deal, let alone having your own website.
|This is what a modem used to look like "back in the day"|
My brother loves opera, so one year I got him a gift certificate for tickets to the National Opera (he lives near DC). He raved about the whole experience.
But special gifts don't have to be expensive. When I was a kid, I had a thing for stuffed animals. So one year my step-mom made me a stuffed elephant. To be sure, I already had a room full of stuffed animals, but that one was special because she had made it just for me. I think I slept with Elphie the elephant every night until I graduated from high school! (shhh... don't tell anyone)
And one year in college I had spent the summer with my dad & step-mom. Near the end of the summer Dad & I were waiting in the local Walgreens for some prescriptions to be filled. The store was full of back to school stuff and I remarked how I'd always wanted one of those big boxes of 64 crayons, but my mom would never let me have one because we already had a big box full of old crayons at home - never mind that they were all the same few colors over & over, and that they were mostly broken etc.
Anyhow, shortly after I returned to school that fall, a package arrived from my dad. At first I was horrified because my brother's birthday is in September and I thought he'd gotten the birthdays mixed up. But when I opened it I discovered a box of 64 crayons with a little note telling me how proud he was of everything I'd accomplished with only "broken & sub-standard tools." It still makes my cry thinking about it. And yes... I still have them.
And I think the best gift I ever gave my father was Christmas dinner the year his mother died, I prepared his favorite meal of gnocchi, just like Grandma had taught me to make it.
And the best gift CatMan ever got me was the time he snuck into my house when I was away (he has a key) and photographed my cats. He framed the photos for me and surprised me with them. I was beyond overjoyed.
So tell me, what are some of the best gifts you've ever given or received?