Gifts I Enjoyed Giving

Mon 15 Nov, 2010 04:18 pm
I bought one share of stock for a young boy. Why? Dunno. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it was. Because he was a minor, the share was in my name and his. I got a quarterly dividend check (usually not more than two dollars). I cashed the check and sent him the money. He loved this! For times a year he got money from me, and four times a year he and I were connected.

I adopted whales in the names of two children. Unlike other wildlife "adoptions," I got to select the whales. They had names. I picked a huge female for the girl child and a young male for the boy. They received siting reports and updates all year long. They loved it, and I enjoyed getting the updates from them.

Every year I visit the same friends for Christmas. I was running out of gift ideas. I pondered. I came up with the following:

I went to various health food and exotic food stores or sections in markets. I found unusual and/or exotic items such as cranberry mustard, pickled watermelon rind, etc. I bought a big basket. I wrapped each food item individually and placed each in the basket. Then I wrapped the basket. I threw in a small bottle of champagne and some caviar. My friends loved receiving this gift. Opening it was fun. They tried and enjoyed most of the things I bought. I got reports. The cranberry mustard was a hit.

As I was writing, I realized that these gifts all have one thing in common. Each kept me connected to the person I gave the gift to. Each was in a sense a gift that kept on giving and gave back to me.

What gifts have you enjoyed giving?

Mon 15 Nov, 2010 05:12 pm
A few years ago my overweight, chain smoking Mum told me that she used to love swimming and diving when she was a child. I didn't know that and I don't think I'd ever seen her swim. For her next birthday I gave her gift vouchers at a small local pool where she and my Dad could swim in private. They loved it and they're still going. Illness forced her to lose some weight and finally give up smoking but I'd like to think that me getting her swimming again has really helped her health as well as getting her doing something she enjoys again.
Mon 15 Nov, 2010 05:58 pm
Thanks for the response. I think that all too often people give gifts they would like for themselves. Clearly that wasn't the case here. You gave your mother something you thought she would enjoy, and she did. Wonderful that her health improved as a side effect.
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Mon 15 Nov, 2010 06:21 pm
When the Harry Potter books first came out and were not yet a huge sensation I happened by a stack in the bookstore and picked up a copy. It looked like fun so I bought one intending to send it to my niece E who was about 6 at the time, for a Christmas gift. I sat down and read it and loved it so much that I wrote a little note and immediately dropped the book in the mail instead of waiting.

She loved it, of course, getting such a fun present for absolutely no reason other than the fact that someone though she would like it.

It became our little friendship -- I would order to copies to be delivered on release date -- one for me and one for her. We would read them and then we'd talk on the phone about it.

Her dad (my brother) is in the military so she and I never lived near each other and might not have got to know each other very well had it not been for sending her that first book on a lark.

She's all grown up now but I'm still "The Harry Potter Aunt".

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Mon 15 Nov, 2010 06:24 pm

And one year I came up with the idea that we all pitch in and get my mom a computer and a years worth of internet service.

We unleashed a monster!

It's one of the best ideas I ever had.
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Mon 15 Nov, 2010 09:16 pm
thinking thinking

I generally like giving gifts. The most fun is trying to think up a theme and then coming up with useful or silly things that fit into the theme - and then seeing if the recipient can tell there is a theme. Sometimes the way the gifts are wrapped are a clue to the theme.
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Tue 16 Nov, 2010 03:23 am
Boomer, Love the Harry Potter present story. So your the Harry Potter aunt. I like that. I guess I should be glad my mother refused to have anything to do with a computer (the contraption). In fact, she didn't want an answering machine. Referred to them as dummies.

Bethie, a theme. Oooh, I like that.

Another wonderful gift for a kid. A gingerbread house. The one I got was enormous and beautifully decorated. A few days after Christmas, I got a surprise in the mail--a wall!

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Old Goat
Tue 16 Nov, 2010 04:27 am
I like to make scale models of the old 1850's US Cavalry defences out of used matchsticks, and give them to young family members.

Some may consider this to be a very miserly thing to do, but it's the Fort that counts.
Tue 16 Nov, 2010 04:43 am
@Old Goat,
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Tue 16 Nov, 2010 03:44 pm
I used to do that (well, not the whales thing, though that sounds good). I'd buy things over the year that made sense re one person or another, and sometimes the choices didn't involve any buying, or much buying. I've not been much for going to a department store (back in the day) or otherwise buying a person a sweater or tie. I sent cousins marionberry jam from the northwest, and so on.
Sometimes quite old books on their favorite enthusiasms.

I have two 'main' girl cousins. I had a sister in law who was from Liberia, who gave me long caftanish things from that country. They were perfect for my cousins, I thought, in a year when I had no damn money, one cousin being on the large side of size and both being tall. Ha, I never asked them how soon it took them to put them in the Good Will bin.

What the hell. I did go buy a primo mechanical pencil for a cousin's son, at no small expense (you'd never ever find it at Staples) or even the average art store.. it was both beautiful aesthetically and functional if you did drafting and knew what to look for in usage. (thank you, aunty jo)
I have no idea if he still has it or if it was gone in a week.
The good bit is that when I was last in their area of the country, this quiet kid was near surprisingly glad to see me.
Probably not due to that pencil, but I suppose it didn't hurt.
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Wed 17 Nov, 2010 01:06 am
I dont want to bring down the tone of this thread and I think if you get pleasure from giving gifts then good for you.

I have always found giving gifts a bit of a hassle and not worth it. I get all tied up with "I hope they will like it" and spend so much time worrying about what they will think that the pleasure of giving is washed away.
No one has ever said ewwww!!! so I really have no idea why i feel this way.

I get much more pleasure from watching my wife's joy and the sparkle in her eyes as she shows me gifts she has bought for each person and then lovingly wrapping them.
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Wed 17 Nov, 2010 01:28 am
old goat, I don't see your gift as miserly. Think of the time that goes into creating it.

osso, I've always found buying clothes to be challenge. If you had success in giving clothes, I congratulate you. The mechanical pencil sounds like a good idea.

dadpad, I have to congratulate you, too. You worry about something I don't. Not easy to find something I don't worry about. If you can't relax and enjoy giving, then it's great that you get pleasure out of your wife's efforts on your behalf.
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Wed 17 Nov, 2010 06:33 am
Once I was in a day long meeting with about a dozen people. During the course of the day, one woman mentioned how her father, who'd died several years back, would send her flowers every May Day.

She looked so wistful talking about it.

So, on the next May Day, I anonymously sent her flowers.

She didn't connect it to mentioning it several months prior, for all I know she could have talked about it several times before and after.

She called all around, but could never figure out where they came from.
Thu 18 Nov, 2010 08:56 am
Nice thread Roberta. Great stories all.
About two years ago my step dad (I’ll call him Joey) drove me to the Dryden, Ontario airport to see me off. There were a bunch of us there, visiting family. The big carriers don’t fly to Dryden, so I ended up on Bear Skin airlines. Joey was interested in getting there early; he was bored to tears because the uncles couldn’t golf that week and he was a little grumpy I know, in need of some diversion. A still imposing figure at 80 years old, we spent an hour or more wandering around and he peppered a dozen questions at the check in clerk, who answered them all good naturedly. “How long is the runway?” “When was the airport built?” And a comment: “Only some of the Bear Skin planes have a paw print.” Eventually I shared a smile with the guy and moved us along.

We moseyed around outside and watched some helicopters for a while. “Dryden has a 6,000 ft runway, Joeblow,” he instructed me. He recited some other facts. As we were chatting, I realised for the first time ever that he used to have his pilot’s licence. I was amazed that I never knew that! How was it possible that I never knew that? He wished he were closer to the hangars…would love to get a better look at the helicopters, but no, when I asked, he’d never had a helicopter ride.

Eventually, after he gave me the kiss off at the gate, I crossed the asphalt and climbed the stairs to the plane. As it taxied the long runway, I could see Joey from my window, standing at the chain link, hands up clutching the fence, watching intently. He tipped his hat to me as the wheels left the tarmac almost directly across from where he stood, and I waved and waved and waved.

As luck would have it, the airline was marking an anniversary and had put out a magazine to commemorate their history. You know the kind maybe: one of those complimentary glossy jobs, tucked into the back of the seats? Anyway, I grabbed it for him and called when I finally got home to tell everybody I made it safely and to tell Joey about the magazine. He stole the phone from mum, and in an excited rush proceeded to tell me that after I had gone, the same fellow that had checked me in had approached him at the fence and asked him if he was having a good time. Turns out the fellow was the airport manager, and had witnessed our entire inspection, such as it was. He offered to give Joey a complete tour of the airport and proceeded to drive him in an airport vehicle inside the full course of the runway, to all the outbuildings and hangars, spending another hour giving him the full royal treatment. Joey summed up his mad rush of a story by shouting into the phone “and it was the best goddamned day of my life!”

So, he has since had a helicopter ride (“You’re trying to kill me aren’t you Joeblow?”), and while I don’t think it could ever match the tour he got that day, I was over the moon that I could surprise him with it.

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Thu 18 Nov, 2010 04:27 pm
Truly wonderful gift-giving story, Joe. Thanks for sharing. I had a feeling that a helicopter ride would be the finale.
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Fri 19 Nov, 2010 12:05 am
Joe, I really liked your story.....

Several years ago my aunt went into a old people´s home and I really did not know what to give her for Christmas. It is limited what old people need and a box of chocolate was too easy out.
So I started to buy 24 small gifts and wrapped them nicely. I enjoy to wrap gifts so that was no problem. There were coockies, tea, Christmas cards to write, soap, a small Christmas decoration, napkins......
Before the 1st of December I brought her the gifts and told her that instead of one gift she now got 24 one to open every day.
I did not know if she would really enjoy it, but she told me it was fun and some lady came in every day to see what she had gotten. They then had a cup of tea and maybe some of my coockies. So not only had she a gift a day but also a visitor a day.
The following year she asked me if I would give her another "24 gifts" gift.
I did as long as she lived.
Now I have two more sets of gifts like that which I give every year.
I don´t know who has the most fun - I when I shop for them or the person when opening them.
Fri 19 Nov, 2010 12:28 am
Great one, and so much better than a gift basket that you can dig through and sort out the goodies.
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Fri 19 Nov, 2010 11:32 am
I'm going to give my daughter an adopt a manatee this year. She wants to be a professional basketball player and/or an endanagered species specialist. She learned about manatees a couple of years ago when she did a project about an endanagered species - she did not know much about manatees, but choose them. She fell in love with them. Upon researching them she found the adopt a manatee. She pulled all her money together to adopt one - she said it was more important to help the manatees than buying any old toy.

Another gift I enjoyed giving was a New England Lobster/Steamer package. It came with all the necessary equipment (pan, crackers, bibs), 2 lobsters, steamers, corn/etc. I had it overnighted to Montana. Imagine living in MT and getting lobsters and steamers.
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Fri 19 Nov, 2010 03:09 pm
Chai, Sorry I missed your post. I love the idea of the anonymous flowers.

Roger, I'm trying not to be offended. So far, I'm only partly there.

Linkat, I love the idea of adopting a manatee, especially for a girl who loves them. I'm also intrigued with the idea of sending lobsters and steamers to the middle of the country. I'm sure the recipient was pleasantly surprised.
Fri 19 Nov, 2010 03:12 pm
Yes and I had to help them over the phone how to cook and eat them even though they did have instructions with their gift (the lobsters of course - not the manatee).

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