No matter how curmudgeonly you might imagine you are, one way or another everyone finds themselves partaking in the grand gifting exchange that overtakes the country in December.
I happen to love giving gifts. In most instances I enjoy it much more than getting them. Years ago I found myself dividing humanity into two major kinds of gifters: those who give what they think you should have, and those who give what they think you’d like.
I knew I was firmly in the second group when I chose a gift for a relative who adored guns. Now I admit they are sometimes (if rarely) necessary. But call me prissy- I find no charm whatsoever in guns. This relative adored them, collected them, displayed them, and collected books about them. (I should add that he never used any, and passed away peacefully in his bed a few years ago.) When I saw a beautifully produced coffee- table book on antique rifles, I bought it to give to him. I thought he’d like it, (he did) all the while knowing that it was not something I would want. This is, to date, my most extreme ‘I-honor-you-by-giving-you-what-you’d-like-even-if-I don’t.’ I continue to give in this way.
My mother was the other sort of giver. She adored bargains, and would pick up the oddest things she deemed others should have. She had become immune to the brow-raising her offerings caused. She did not need an occasion. If anything, she avoided December and birthdays, and would unload her finds at unexpected times. But I see that her gifts were, in the end, more hits than misses. We stared, puzzled, at the brush to clean dirty nails, the salt-shaker with giant holes, or the plastic straw-holder. She thought we could use them, and you guessed it, we do to this day. In many ways my mother’s choices were more enduringly successful.
Of course, like everyone else, I’d like to give you what we both like and what I also think you should have. But sometimes all the elements don’t come together. That is when you know which kind of gift-giver is the primary one in you.
So which is it? Do tell.