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  • Last modified 92 days ago (Jan. 18, 2018)

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Another Day in the Country

On gift giving

© Another Day in the Country

I was already in bed, reading a book, when she came into my room.

“I think you need to re-examine your ideas about gift giving,” my daughter said.

I looked up from my book, closed it, and laid it aside. This busy girl of mine evidently was wanting to talk, and I’d been wanting to sit and chat with her, too, but this was not the time nor the subject I’d imagined.

“You care too much,” she added.

And here I was under the illusion that caring about a gift that you give to someone is an important part of the package.

She saw my puzzled expression and laughed.

“You care too much about whether or not it’s just the ‘right’ gift,” she said. “You’ve got to let that go.”

We’ve had a lot of stories on the subject of gift giving in our family that we tell on occasion and laugh about. There are stories about Ted, an impossible person to surprise at Christmas or on his birthday. We all knew what kind of things he wanted — he talked about them. He always had a rather long list.

Since we were a family living on a very modest preacher’s salary, those extra luxuries of things we wanted and didn’t just need often were gifts we attempted to give at Christmas and birthdays.

I have always been the one that relished surprises. There’s nothing more delicious in my mind than to have some occasion to look forward to and being pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

Hmmm. Maybe this is the root of my caring so much about just the right gift! One had to choose carefully, save, and watch for sales events, all part of the gift-giving baggage.

However, back to the man who always knew about the gift you were presenting.

We went to great lengths to disguise the shape of his gifts, especially at Christmas. But no matter if they were large, small, hidden, or disguised, he’d pick up the package, weigh it in his hand and say, “Let me guess!”

He’d usually get it right.

There’s a family story about my endlessly frugal mother. She usually gave you things that she wanted herself, things she valued and wished for, too.

“What did you get from Mom?” my sister would call and ask if we weren’t together for the holidays.

“Towels,” we’d say in unison. Mom never had too many towels.

Remember when banks used to give prizes when you invested money with them? Well, Dad loved collecting those freebies after his retirement, and that’s what we got for Christmas.

One year he got a whole cookware set which they didn’t need, so at Christmas the box got passed from one of us to the next and we each chose something. That story still provides lots of laughs when we all get together.

Is it any wonder that I care so much about gifts that I give?

I don’t want to give what I want for myself, like the guitar my husband wanted and gave to me for Christmas, or the towels that were Mom’s favorite.

The joy of trying to choose just the right gift is part of the gift-giving process in my book. However, if you live a long ways away from your family and can’t really notice what they need or like, giving them just the right gift gets ever more difficult. I hate asking, “What do you want?” and I refuse to give up and just send money.

“I believe, a gift is an invitation to experience something new,” my daughter said. “Something you may not ever try or even think you’d like; but you get it as a gift and you might find you really enjoy it. And even if they never use the gift and give it away to someone else, the gift just keeps on giving. Who knows where it will end up?”

I had thought of that; but what new thing can this old gal offer to a younger generation that they haven’t already known and experienced? Unconsciously, this was probably why I’d gotten into the fretting mode of worrying about the right gift too much.

The surprise factor hit the mark this past Christmas when I received a bottle of perfume that I’d wanted but couldn’t really afford.

My son-in-law handed me a book for Christmas, written by the Bush sisters.

“I know you like to read and that you are close to your sister, so I thought you’d especially enjoy this,” he said.

I did, and I’ve handed the book on to my sister to read. Those gifts really hit the mark.

It’s another day in the country, and I’m practicing Cupid’s art of shooting little gifts, like arrows, out to loved ones and not worrying about hitting the target. It’s the exercise of giving that’s important.

Last modified Jan. 18, 2018

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