Saturday, November 26, 2016

What’s the Perfect Gift? Ask!

I know, I know, you want to buy the newest trend, the shiniest gadget and the perfect gift that will make you, the giver, feel great watching your giftee unwrap. Well, that’s partly true, right? Everyone knows it’s better to give than to receive…and it’s much more fun! Here’s the key, give something the giftee will love. And we try, we really try but sometimes…well, that new bike shines too bright and we just gotta get it because everyone wants a bike, and who doesn’t love blue?, and we should all get outside more and I’m not, I mean I just can’t - no I refuse to buy another stack of boring books…I want to mix it up.  

REALITY (we always forget reality): Aforementioned giftee is salivating in anticipation over a brand new stack of books and spending the next couple of months hibernating in the coziest chair in the house devouring them. And that bike’s going in the garage the first chance you get to put it there…and it ain’t movin’.

Sometimes in the excitement of buying gifts, overwhelmed with wonderful intentions, we can lose sight of what may make our giftee’s heart sing…which is the goal. Ultimately. We also become so determined to get that perfect gift that we forget something needed can be the perfect gift, too - from giftee’s-eye-view!

What’s the Perfect Gift? Only one way to find out - ASK! And accept the answer.

Years ago, when I was a young, starving actor living in Manhattan trying to make ends meet with gigs that paid in MetroCards and lunch. That first Christmas, when my mom asked me what I wanted I told her I’d read about an actor whose parents had given him a huge box of toiletries and other necessities that really add up and as only the MTA accepts MetroCards, that’s what I wanted!

She wanted no part of it. None. “Don’t be ridiculous. I’ll buy you shampoo. Give me a list and I’ll get you what you need. But what do you want for Christmas.”

Here’s the thing, when you’re young and determined and stubborn (very, very stubborn) everything is a handout, even when it’s not. So I finally convinced my mom that just buying these things for me was “supporting me” but for Christmas, they’d just be awesome gifts. She reluctantly (very, very reluctantly) agreed.

The actress, in college.

So that Christmas morning, Mom was pretty upset that she’d agreed to go along with my scheme. Mumblings of I’m so disappointed and I can’t believe this and there’s nothing under the tree for you could all be heard in her famous Irish whisper.

When we began to unwrap gifts, I was so excited. Mom was not. Dozens of presents under the tree were wrapped and ready to be torn open. As I yelled, “Shampoo - the GOOD kind!” and gasped “Toilet paper!!!! 15 rolls!!! Windex - yes!! Oh my gosh, I totally needed new lipstick!!!” Mom’s smile returned and she became excited, too “Check your stocking!!!” I ran to my stocking like a little kid, “Mascara!! Toothbrush, oooooh the serious hand crème. A CVS GIFT CARD!!!!!!!!!!” It was a pretty great Christmas. Later I’d hear Mom saying, “Who would have thought shower gel would win the day?”

Ok, she did slip in a few other gifts and I’m sure they were great, but honestly, I don’t remember them. I remember the excitement of opening all the things I needed and had had to struggle to buy or do without completely. I remember not worrying (for months) that I was running low on laundry detergent. And I remember how great (and hard) it was for my mom to give up a little of her excitement in buying gifts to get me something I really needed and wanted.

So, I ask this holiday season that you remember that you should LOVE, NEED, and USE everything in your home and that you are buying gifts for people who should LOVE, NEED and USE everything in their home. Also, receiving a need can be as great a gift to open as a want. So yes, if your niece just moved to Minnesota, get her the hat that covers her ears…your heart will hear her whispered ‘thank you’ one early frigid morning as she tugs it down a little further.

Last night, as I pulled last year’s Christmas gift, a down comforter, over my shoulders I thought, “Thanks Mom, I really wanted this blanket and tonight I really need it.”

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