My mother was the best at buying gifts. One trick was continual gift shopping. She didn’t start hours or days before the event, she was always on the lookout for something unique every day of the year, and especially when she was travelling. It’s easy to find unique in Lisbon or London, not so easy when you’re shopping the big box two days before Christmas. One end cap gift display looks a lot like another, and even then it’s pretty well picked over.
Not only would she buy something for someone in particular, she would also buy gifts for no one in particular or something she just liked. Then it would go into the gift drawers. This dresser was located in the guest bedroom and on more than one occasion she allowed me to grab something for someone at the last minute. It was my early training at “re-gifting,” a time honored practice at our house.
What her gifts said, said a lot about your relationship to her. My gifts from her always had an educational or edification element to it. If you were one of her students or theatre buddies, no doubt you’d be getting something from Broadway or the West End. If you were a friend or family you always got something unique and personal. If you were my dad, you’d be getting the bill but that’s another story.
What you would never get as a gift from mom was a gift card. To her, what that said about your relationship is that “I’ve checked you off my list.” She always thought it was a cop-out to say, “they can just get what they want.” She also realized that not everyone is as enamored with shopping as she was. “Thank you for giving me something that forces me to go shopping. Maybe next year I can get me a gift card for a visit to the dentist.”
As usual, I’m stuck in the middle. I aspire to give gifts like my mother did, but I lack the discipline to actually pull it off. What I do like to give and receive is money. I know that seems a bit impersonal too, but it is the perfect re-gifting gift and you can use it any way you like, any day you like for anything you like. Or you can just throw it in the drawer and give it back to me next year. Merry Christmas!