Gifts – Birthday Gifts, Christmas Gifts, Hanukah Gifts, Anniversary Gifts, Wedding Gifts, Baby Shower Gifts, ‘I was a bad boy’ Gift – our culture is ‘gift’ obsessed. Even advertisers have lured us in to buying shit we don’t need with their ‘free gift with purchase’ sale. I seriously wait until Lancome has their ‘free gift with purchase’ as I love their eye makeup remover, but I don’t use any of their other products. Nevertheless I love getting a gift – a free gift at that – so I choose my free eye cream and skin combo, my color of make-up bag, the eye shadow I want, and which lip gloss I think I will like – and end up giving it all away.
We all love receiving gifts (don’t lie, you do!) but giving them can be a pain the ass. The pressure of having to buy a gift can be a burdensome task, especially if you wait until the last minute. And, as we approach the holiday season, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I am starting to see the Black Friday ads enticing shoppers to get up at the crack of dawn, stand in line in likely cold early morning temperatures, to hopefully be one of the lucky first 2 people to land a great deal on a much wanted holiday gift ‘something or other’. The Black Friday advertising also reminds us that Christmas is only blah blah days away, and you only have so many pressure-filled days to find that perfect gift for everyone on your holiday list.
Personally, I try to play ‘eye spy with my little eye’ year round when it comes to buying gifts. I love to give people a gift that I think they will truly love, instead of a desperation-last-minute-pressure-bought gift. Also, as a single girl on a budget, I can find amazing gifts for my friends and family if I keep my eyes open all year long, and try to find marvelous gifts –on sale – which I hope they will love. A gift that I also had better love, because, if the recipient doesn’t like the gift, I can’t return it, so I have to make sure that it is also something that works in my wardrobe, condo, car, whatever – you get the picture.
So is the tradition of giving gifts just an annoyance? Has it just become a commercialized-nightmare- hellish-ordeal for every single possible celebratory holiday that there is out there? Is there any real magic or power in gift giving?
As we prepare for our Thanksgiving holiday with our families and friends this week, I am reminded of the power of a gift………….
POWER OF A GIFT: Is one person’s treasure is another person’s crap?!?
Almost two years ago, one of my closest friends decided to leave LA and move back home to be with her family. I was terribly sad to see her move, because, on top of leaving LA, she was also leaving the U.S.A. and heading to a country that would literally take her a half way around the world.
As hard as it was for her to leave, it was even harder for her to have to abandon many of her treasured possessions’, as the cost of shipping was atrocious. As she sorted out her life, one that she had accumulated for 15 years in Los Angeles, packing what she could and selling what she could, she was still left with several items that she deemed were too ‘special’ for her to sell, or too ‘difficult or expensive’ to ship, so she decided to give them away to us, her cherished friends.
I remember the call I got from her, her excited to tell me that I was to be bequeathed with some of her ‘special items’, and when could we get together so she could give them to me? I remember thinking at the time, ‘Oh my God’, and ‘Shit I am going to be stuck with her crap’ and ‘UGH’. I tried to fain excitement but really, I was irritated that I was going to be stuck with someone else’s ‘junk’.
I am not the person who likes to go to garage sales, and I don’t like to rummage through secondhand clothing stores. I like new things – more specifically, new things on sale. The two exceptions being quality antique furniture, and estate jewelry, as hand-crafted wood and sparkly bobbles are always welcome gifts. So all I could think of was ‘geez, what the fuck am I going to do with her crap?’ My place isn’t very big, and I was stressing about where to put her, what I perceived was going to be, ‘her precious pieces’ that would become – my clutter.
The day of the big exchange, I went to her place to pick up my new ‘treasures’, and walked into her apartment to find a section, cordoned off, with my name written on the top. There was a large Chinese vase – that stood 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide, 3 small antique perfume bottles, a Chinese bowl, a black cashmere wrap, and a pink-bedazzled bottle of water with Paris Hilton’s picture plastered on the front – one that she had received at a party she went to at Paris Hilton’s house years ago……
I wasn’t quite sure what to say. She was giving me things that actually went with my decor and ones she knew I most likely would like. I have a very Asian inspired home, so even though the vase was large, I knew it would mix fine with my antiques. The bowl I knew would look great on my table. The perfume bottles would work themselves in with the small collection of antique perfume bottles that I already had. The cashmere wrap, was, well, a cashmere wrap. I sat and listened to her tell me the story of every piece, where she got it, or who gave it to her, why it was a treasured piece, why she was bequeathing it to me, all in great detail I will add. The only piece I protested was the Paris Hilton bottled water from five years prior, as I had to be honest with her – that one, would likely end up getting tossed as stale water was not something I wanted to have – even with pretty Paris’s picture on it.
She was teary eyed as we loaded the pieces into my car, sad to see them go. But she said she knew what a cautious neat-freak I was and knew I would take good care of her treasured pieces. She trusted me with her treasures, and I felt terrible for having ever been annoyed.
And now, with her gifts carefully placed around my condo, I think of her every single time I look at the vase, or at the bowl, or at the perfume bottles, or wear the wrap. There is a little piece of her wherever you look in my place. And I treasure them, as I treasure her; Beautiful gifts that remind me of the wonderful gift of friendship that she has and continues to give me.
Heading into this holiday season, when you are thinking about getting ready to shop for gifts, remember that a thoughtful, personal gift – even if it is a pain in the ass to find, and even if it costs more or less than you wanted to spend, or even if you have to take the time to make it yourself – a personal thoughtful gift will be a treasured gift by the recipient, and a reminder of you. And that my friends, is what a gift is all about. A reminder that you care, like, or love someone to give them a gift from the heart.