This week, a few weeks before Christmas, we are discussing the favorite gifts that we have given. The idea was mine.
When we make schedules here at 4F, 1H, we split it into three-month blocks so that we each take a quarter. We solicit ideas from each other and then schedule. The schedules are made well in advance, so the topics are sometimes in our heads for many months or even a year, can go for some time into a ‘consider for future use’ list…and I have no idea what I had in mind when I submitted this one.
I have started making notes to myself to jog my memory, unfortunately, this one has no such notation.
So I will wing it.
First of all, I love shopping. I hate the monetary constraints which have always been my lot, but I do love shopping. I grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs and man, there have always been many places to shop there. Going around, store-to-store, mall-to-mall, looking for just the right thing for each person was a thrill. My mother taught me to put great mindfulness into purchases for each person, along with affordability. (If you shop right, you can do it.) When I moved to Idaho, I had to travel far to get to much real shopping, but I did it; (there were fewer people who needed personal presents then, anyway).
When I got to Denver, the shopping was great again, and the man I moved there to marry, (an old BF from DC), loved to shop, too. We shopped all year long. We’d find perfect gifts for people on sale, (the gifts, not the people), and squirrel them away for events, especially Christmas. That way, we could afford good quality gifts and make sure they were highly suitable for each person, even when our time was limited.
On to Kentucky, and we need to travel out of town again to shop, but it used to be a pleasure. However, family needs and time became a real problem, and health issues have put a big kibosh on my store treks. I thank Heaven for online shopping and do use small businesses when I can.
But for favorites…hmmm.
I used to bake up a storm and hand-make candies. I do very little of it now, just for the close family and whatever friends come around. At one time, I used to make specialty boxes, taking each person’s tastes into account, and give them to family, friends, my husband’s office mates/fellow teachers, our sons’ Scout people or teachers and others who served us. It was very gratifying to see eyes light up when I remembered someone’s favorites or guessed it right. People who were not expecting a gift were often very touched by receiving a small sampler.
One present that sticks out in my mind is the Hogwarts robe I gave to my grandson five Christmases ago.
My grandson, indeed, all of our family, is quite taken with the Harry Potter books and movies. When I told my sister and her daughter that one of my grandson’s presents was a Hogwarts robe, my niece said that it was too bad that it wasn’t an ‘Invisibility Cloak’. It struck them both very funny and they contrived to give my grandson real gifts, but also to give him an empty box and say it was an invisibility cloak.
I thought that was a terrible idea.
I don’t care if you give someone as many gifts as Dudley got on his birthday, getting one last gift and finding that it is an empty box would be hard on anyone, let alone a 9-year-old boy. I tried to talk them out of it. They were too sure that it was going to be funny. I said that the only way it would work nicely is to give it to him as his first present; they said no, it would be funnier if it was at the end. I said the only way I would let them try that joke is if I held back the robe and give it to him right after he opened the ‘cloak’. They were upset with me and told me that I would “ruin the joke”, but I stood firm, hoping they would drop the idea altogether.
No such luck. Those two plotted away and even weighed the box so it wouldn’t appear to be empty. My grandson was understandably disappointed when he opened it. I was so glad to be able to hand him the Hogwarts robe afterward.
To this day he doesn’t like to accept gifts from my sister and niece, and will not let them live down the joke that flubbed. He still can’t see any humor in it.
The Hogwarts robe was a good gift for him, and unexpected gift for him. He still has it .He used to wear it for Halloween and for many costume occasion, including when he and his friends used to have a “Harry Potter” club, and he was suitably outfitted for those occasions for years.
However, the timing of the gift was as important, if not more so, than the gift itself. I think that is what has made it one of my favorites.