Unwrap me.

I’m not big on gifts. I am grateful and happy that we no longer do gifts at Christmas in my family. It’s been about 13 years and what a relief. No more stressful rushing in December to buy useless things that the others might not even like. Anytime of year we see something we think the other might like we just buy it and give it, whenever. It has made Christmas much more relaxing, warm, and fun.

At the same time, sometimes I love searching for, or finding, the perfect gift for a friend. And I love making cards or gifts when I (rarely) have the time or energy. And I love wrapping gifts. I love how they look and I love unwrapping them.

The best gifts I’ve gotten from my friends are ‘experiences’- afternoons or days they had planned out for me. Picking me up in the morning and taking me for a haircut or brunch, a city walk or a museum tour. This year for my birthday, two close girlfriends sent me a poster a few days before my birthday. It had a picture of me with balloons and said: Be at … at 10am. Bring hiking boots, an umbrella, sexy evening wear and pyjamas. I had no idea what any of the plans were but it was so lovely not to have to think, so lovely to be surprised. And of course we had a magical day.

What about gifts from boyfriends and girlfriends? Tough one. I have a hard time picking gifts for a boyfriend. Beyond making something cute, or planning a romantic getaway, I’m often stomped. If the person has expressed something they love, then I love secretly making a mental note and getting them something related. Such as a trip to attend a concert of a band they like. Or going to an antique car show if that’s what they like. I can also pick out a beautiful cashmere sweater or scarf. But what else? It stresses me out so sometimes I’d love it if we just skipped on the gifts.

As long as we make the occasion special. If a guy plans a wonderful evening or cooks a beautiful meal for me on my birthday, then I don’t need anything that comes in a box.

And I think it’s often even harder for men to pick out gifts for girls. So I don’t blame them when they get it wrong. Some of my friends got pretty awful or hilarious gifts from their boyfriends this year.

My Hungarian friend’s husband got her hiking boots. She looked at him trying to hide her utter disappointment. You have to know she doesn’t like nature, tents or anything like that. And how unromantic and unsexy are hiking boots as a gift? But then she found a note inside one of the shoes describing a trip to Italy. That was the real gift, and the boots were just for a one-day hike they’d take there. Italy = much better than boots and the surprise made it even better.

Lara got a blender from her boyfriend. Even if you’ve been married 15 years I’m not sure you want a blender. But when a boyfriend gets you one… well, no comment.

Tech gifts are typical of guys by the way. My ex always got me things like cameras, external hard drives or ipods. And it’s ok, because I still think of him anytime I use any of my gadgets.

In my other ‘home country’, they do wish-lists. You write a list every Christmas and birthday with all the things you want and everyone chooses whatever fits their budget or their relationship with you. Definitely makes things easier. Not sure how I feel about it though. Since living there, I write wish lists every Christmas and birthday, but I’ve never shared my wish-lists with anyone. Instead I just wish for the items and send people telepathic messages about them in my head. But the thing is, you have to not cling to the list you have in your head- oftentimes someone will completely surprise you and give you a gift that you didn’t even know you wanted, and that’s so much better than anything you could have put on your list.

Going back to boyfriends, what gifts do we really want? Anything that shows he’s been listening or has taken time to think. Price means nothing and there is not even any need to purchase anything.  I have two things in mind right now that I’d like to receive. One is an object and one is a document. Let’s see :-)

I’ll end with a nice gift my best male friend got his girlfriend. They’d only been together a month (now going on 3 years) but were madly in love. For the 7 days leading up to Christmas he got her a gift everyday. Her favorite chocolates,  CDs, DVDs, a book, even an item of lingerie (in a fun way). On Christmas eve he gave her a guitar. She’d been dreaming of one. She was so surprised she didn’t know what to say. Again, it’s not about the value of the guitar, but more the fact that he’d been listening. And had saved up and deprived himself of some things to be able to get it for her.

So what do gifts really represent? And why is there so much emotional energy attached to them? Do our parents create this obsession when they go overboard with presents when we are children? Do we just like seeing something and opening it… feeling that we are opening another view into the other person and our relationship… wondering if they really know us at all?

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8 thoughts on “Unwrap me.

  1. Another great installment, makes a person wonder…

    For me the worse gift I got was a shirt which was about 4 sizes bigger than my size…. made me think…… really?????? I know im not skinny, but how fat do you think I am??? And once I recieved a box of BIC pens……………. why would you steal ur office supplies and give them away as gifts???

    The best gift I recieved was a Teddy bear that my friend made from scratch…. and dressed up exactly like me, and recorded a message the I can hear everytime I pressed its hand.
    Another great gift was a HUGE cook book I was checking out in virgin megasore. For someone that adores cooking…. It was just perfect and sooooo thoughtful.

    Its NEVER EVER the gift itself or its value, is just the thought behind it and the effort made to think about getting it.

    • I love it when people share their own experiences when they comment on the blog- Your good gifts are lovely, and the bad ones… well an over-sized shirt and bic pens kinda top the list for sure.

  2. the biggest gift i could ever have for Xmas, is to see my parents, getting old, proud of me, and becoming like children witch you have to care for…at least the only paper you unpack, is a simple tissue, to dry your tears of joy :)

    • It’s true… I guess maybe gifts, like writing or any art, is an exchange, the giver and the receiver both engage with the gift, and what happens to the gift and the receiver after it’s been gifted, the life the gift gets to lead… is as you say also part of it. Thanks for reading and commenting :)

      • Exactly like this blog or any blog… one person writes, but what those reading are thinking when reading is as important… them agreeing, disagreeing, nodding, smiling, and then commenting and conversing. Dunno if it makes any sense. But anyway, every comment I get is like a small gift for me, and encourages me to write the next post.

  3. You best male friend’s gift just reminded me of a gift I gave my ex. “We’d only been together a month (and it went on for a little over 3 years) but were madly in love.” A music CD. The cover art had our picture inside a heart. The CD; 30 love songs. Hand-picked from a collection of a few hundred love songs. 30 love songs; 1 song a day…for the lovely 30 days that passed.

    All songs, though, were in password-protected files. Each day, I would randomly text my ex the password. Each day, 1 song was unlocked. The songs opened up in a full-screen browser. Our picture was in the background. And the lyrics were there.

    On the 30th day, and in the text that contained the password for that day, was something unexpected. Instructions. To look at the meaningless dashes at back of the CD cover art. And to write in the 30 passwords of the 30 days that passed.

    The seemingly randomly created passwords filled all the blanks and brought to life a love letter, wishing my ex a lovely 2-month anniversary.

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