I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Art of Giving

Thanks to Marie's lovely comment, I thought I'd write about me as a gift giver...because it can't always be about receiving, nor should it be.

I'm not a huge gift giver - meaning that more often than not I totally forget about needing to give gifts at all. Not that I'm selfish or inconsiderate, more that I'm a social retard who never seems to know who is meant to get gifts and when. Luckily I am friends with The Neighbour's Wife, who not only reminds me of gift-appropriate events but also shops for me! I actually am a far more prolific gift giver when it's NOT an event - so I'll see a cute card and send it to a friend for no reason, will cut articles out of newspapers that I think are of interest and will send them on, will go out to dinner with a friend and offer to pay just for the heck of it. Or I'll be out and about somewhere and will find something - a book, some foodstuff, whatever - which will remind me of someone I love and I'll give it to them for no reason at all. I'll send flowers, send cupcakes, write "I'm thinking about you" emails and texts. I'm far more about the smaller, more often gifts than I am about the big showy once-a-year gift. I want my friends to know I am thinking of them and love them even when it's NOT their birthday. Many times the gift I give is just one of time and love - so I'll give a friend biz advice if she asks, will take time out of my chaotic life to have a chat to a friend on the phone, will put 500% more effort into a cake they've ordered from me, will go for early morning walks (on a Sunday) and so on. Sometimes it's not really the gift of 'stuff,' it's just the gift of time and love which is important.  In many ways my friends are my family, and I want to honour that by being a gift giver when no gift is really necessary.

That being said, when I *do* remember the big gift events, and I do take the time to think about it - I LOVE giving gifts and especially those which the recipient does not expect, and one which is totally tailored to them in every way I possibly can.  Perfect example of this was our recent wedding anniversary - DH and I are anniversary nerds and so therefore follow the "first year is paper, second is wood" etc Hallmark rules. We do have a "creative interpretation" rule, though - so for 'tin' he got a 30-can box of Pepsi Max.  Why? Because he is totally addicted to that stuff, in Australia cans are known as "tinnies" and they're made out of aluminium, which is the closest I could get to actual tin.  For 'paper' he got a paper bark tree and a note about how we, like the tree, would weather many storms and still be standing. You get the idea. (Although god help me next year, which is crystal.)

This year was ivory - and since I'm not into harming elephants, I had to get creative. You can actually buy mammoth ivory (which is okay, environmentally speaking) but again, I wasn't all too happy with that option. So DH got an enormous (and I mean huge), sculpture of an elephant (wearing shoes) which was made out of white chocolate.

Let me dissect this gift for you. First, white chocolate is not white, it's ivory in colour. Second, elephants produce ivory. Third, for a very long time now we've had an inside joke about elephant shoes. If you see someone across a crowded room and mouth the words 'elephant shoes' to them, it looks as though you are saying....wait a sec. Go find a mirror and try it. You'll see why it's our inside joke. :) Lastly, my DH's favourite treat is white chocolate, and this was the expensive European couveture sort so I was being especially nice.  So this gift was appropriate on a number of different yet very personal levels. Exactly the sort of gift I love to give.

If I'm going to get a gift for someone, it's going to be the end all and be all of gifts - not just the gift voucher you picked up at the department store (although they too have their place). I've given friends all sorts of crazy things - because to me, putting in the effort and love to make it truly personal is SO much more important than what you spent on it, or when they gave it to you. I absolutely ADORE giving someone something which they are not expecting, which comes at a time when they are not expecting, and which really and truly says, "I've been thinking about you, and you are a part of my heart."

As for gifts I've received which meant an enormous amount to me...well, there have been a lot of those. The earrings which belonged to my Mom, the ones I'd always admired - the ones which even now when I put them on I suddenly feel extremely grown up. The beautiful vase a friend brought into the shop right after I opened it - she knew it would look perfect, it was one of her own special collection and yet she chose to pass it onto me. The flowers my SIL brought me, also when I opened the shop. The paintings a friend gave DH and I for our wedding. The various people who have contributed small charms to the gold necklace I wear every day of my life. The personal time Biz Guy makes for me even though he is not one for friendships. The funny parcels which appear on my doorstep from The Good Doctor - parcels which he sends at random times with his family members so they look as though they have appeared out of thin air. The stuff my sister sends - the drawings her children have done, the pictures she has taken of them, the picture frames which she sends for me to put those pictures in. You get the idea. I suppose for me the giving of the small stuff is wonderful, and the things I get which I love are those which are sent with love.

Ultimately, gifts are wonderful to give and receive - we all like getting stuff, right? For me it's remembering that not all gifts are given wrapped with a bow that is the most important of all.

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