Where ever you are in the world, (except perhaps on a desert island or at the top of Mount Everest), I think it is difficult to remain immune to the messages around us to buy big, buy now and buy more... Every kind of media has been hijacked by buying fever.
With Jacob's birthday on Dec 2nd (yesterday) and our wedding anniversary in late December, I have been juggling milestone gifts with Hanukah and Christmas ones and my brain has darted from person to person and list to list, completely ineffectively.
You'd think since Jacob was turning twelve, I might have realized by now, that I needed to start the present buying frenzy early and at least nab some gifts on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
Those SALE extravaganzas scare me. It's taken me 11 years to master Loehmann's** on a quiet day. ( No more needs to be said.)
As the third son and after 12 years of presents, we had really run out of ideas of what to gift Jacob. When asked, he couldn't think of anything he really wanted. (Except a dog-which has been his request for a long time and I'm afraid will continue to be for a longer one). And since his birthday always falls very close to Hanukah, this year Jonny and I decided, the five of us would take a few days away as a family over winter break. Jacob's birthday and all 3 boys' Hanukah gifts would be fun activities we thought they would love to take part in while we are away.
Jacob agreed to this in theory, in advance of his birthday, but we were unsure how it would play out in reality.
So what did he receive as gifts yesterday, apart from a video game from his brothers, a sled for when it snows, spending money from his extended family and his favorite candy?
Here are some of the special and unexpected gifts he received:-
* Telephone calls and emails from 3 of his friends who wanted to wish him a Happy Birthday. Jacob was so thrilled with these. He kept saying, "That was so nice that they called/emailed. I want to remember to do that."
* A surprise visit from Aida, his old babysitter who came with us to America, when we moved from Hong Kong. She is our 'family' here. And truly the only person in the Greater Washington area apart from Jacob's siblings who can say "I remember the day he was born" and saw him within 24 hours of his birth. Her visit, hugs and card/ gift seemed to make him grow inches in happiness.
* Cheese sauce! - Yes that's what he requested on his pasta for lunch. I think he thanked me 3 times for this one minute concoction.
* International calls/ cards/ emails from his Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles -He spoke to everyone with such joy in his voice, so pleased that they had remembered, that they love him and wanted to talk to him.
*Humor -The birthday card we gave him was exactly the same one as last year. We had forgotten. But he remembered and could even put his hands on last year's to show us! He thought THAT was hilarious. I thought it just showed what a rubbish choice there is for cards for SONS and how bad our adult memories are......
* We went out for dinner to his favorite restaurant.
*Jacob loved the variety of activities he will be able to choose from, when we go away. He thought activities were some of the best gifts he's ever received. (Phew!)
So from all of this, what have I learned about the perfect gift?
There isn't one.
But you can come pretty close, by putting thought and love into the ones you give.
And the art of gift giving is not in buying the most expensive or largest gift but by making sure that what you give is what the recipient would like.
It is about giving a thoughtful gift that shows you know that person well and have considered their needs and wants. You've observed their style, the colors they wear, the food they enjoy, the activities they love to do. Gifts can be gifts of time and love. A phone call, an unexpected visit or a thoughtfully composed card are precious gifts. (Well Jacob certainly thought so.)
Gift giving is not about you or about how much you spend. It is about the person you are buying for. The love, thoughtfulness, time and care you put in, will show in the choices you make and send a message to that person that they are important and special to you.
Happy Birthday Jacob!
Please tell me about some of the best gifts you have ever given or received.
Happy gift sourcing.
** For non Americans - Loehmann's is a discount designer label clothing store. Their stock changes daily and you have to wade through it and visit often to find things you didn't even know you needed.
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