I was given some really wonderful gifts for my birthday this year, which got me thinking about birthdays and holidays past, and about the nature of gift-giving in general.
Through rigorous scientific research (read: about five minutes of googling) I confirmed my general assumption that gift-giving is a long-standing human tradition that has evolved (and, one may argue, de-evolved) over time. And rather than cynically point out how over-commercialized our consumerist, consumption-based society has become (alliteration ftw), I’d rather reflect on two especially fabulous gifts I’ve both given and received.
(Gosh, I’m introspective lately, aren’t I? Must be all those ch-ch-ch-changes.)
- In pure scale, I’ll probably never top putting together a surprise trip to Vegas for D’s thirtieth birthday. It wasn’t the coordination involved that was so difficult, it was my commitment to secrecy. I think the core motivator with a lot of gift-giving is the awareness that you’re about to do something awesome for another person you care about, and you honestly want them to enjoy it as soon as possible. With something that big, it was hard not to just spill the awesome beans sooner.
- My friend Abby wrote last week about the American Girl dolls, and when I was about 8 I was given Kirsten. No, not just given. Totally completely surprised by. This was back in the day when American Girl was just a mail-order catalog called Pleasant Company, and when I saw the order form still in the back of the book I *knew* I hadn’t gotten her that year. Except that I had. My parents called the 1-800 number and blew my 8 year old mind. We still talk about it.
I should note that both of these incidents involve so-called “surprises”, which normally I’m totally against. But Avi pointed out to me the other day that surprises only suck when you know they’re coming but you don’t have all the details. (Ironically he went on to totally ruin my birthday surprise by being almost-5 years old and asking if D thought it would be wrapped. Oops.) In reality, the greatest gifts are often true surprises, balancing the awesome with a heavy dose of spontaneity.
So when was the last time you were honestly surprised by an awesome gift? Or better yet, when did you last do that for someone else?