My family will celebrate several spring birthdays, and it’s time for me to think about gifts. What makes a gift special? In order to find out, I decide to list gifts that left an impression and examine why they did. I hope a pattern will emerge.
My elder daughter gave me a retirement gift that I’ll always remember. It had three parts and all of them lived in her bathtub for days ahead of the party. She walked into the event holding a cat carrier that vibrated with movement and peeping sounds. She had brought me week-old, still fuzzy ducklings. She knew that I had delighted in raising Runner ducks, a breed that are noted for how fast they can run. The gift resulted in many duck tales and hours of pure enjoyment. It gets a rating in the top ten.
Being directionally-challenged, one of the best Valentine’s gift I received was a GPS which expanded my world. With my fear of getting lost gone, there was no stopping me now.
Experience gifts also top my list. Forty-some years ago my in-laws treated my husband and me to tickets to the American Players Theatre and dinner. A memorable gift indeed. Similarly, tickets to see the musical Evita, a family trip to the Chicago Shedd Aquarium, and a surprise anniversary trip to The Smokey Mountains also top the list.
Facebook gives me the next item on my list. My brother had posted a photo of my dad and me, along with our hunting dogs and the pheasants we had shot. Dad and I had shopped together for my first gun. His encouraging me to get it meant he wanted to spend time with me. When I view the photo, I’m instantly transported back to a memorable time when the two of us hunted at Honey Creek hunting preserve, got our birds, and then stopped off at the local bar for the best onion rings I’ve ever eaten. Father and daughter spending time together; a special gift indeed.
I head to my closet knowing I’ll find more gifts for my list. There I find the soft blue fuzzy scarf that I wear when I’m feeling down. My mother gave it to me for Christmas one year, and just putting it around my neck can bring me comfort.
Next I add my jewelry box, hand-crafted and designed by my husband. Once I open it, I find several more items including the necklace of shells from the Philippines which my father had brought back from his time in the navy. He’d given it to me when I was a teenager. I also find the opal ring my mother and I chose together for my sixteenth birthday. Then I uncover something unusual.
Given to me by my father over 50 years ago, I’ve kept it all this time. It’s the size of a colored marker, made out of hardened paint, and one-of-a-kind. My father worked at American Motors. This piece of art came from paint drippings or cleaning out a paint gun. Someone may have turned it on a lathe to get the shape and smoothness. The colors and patterns are mesmerizing, like a kaleidoscope. And it has the added effect of allowing you to see into it, almost like you’re viewing the endless universe.
Still holding it, I scan my list and figure out my answer. The best gifts expand our world, bring comfort and joy, and offer a kaleidoscope of happy memories.