23 April 2009

The Art of Gifting

Over the last couple of years I've come to realize something: I don't need anything. This house is stuffed stem to stern with things I couldn't use if I could find...there's enough fabric somewhere in the attic to sew a tent the size of a football field. I have 23 sets of Crown Pottery dinnerware. Somewhere....haven't seen it in nine years but I BOUGHT it so I know it's up there somewhere. (My eBay phase.) There's a gorgeous vineyard-themed wrought-iron pot rack from Neiman Marcus hanging from a rafter...it only fits with a 12-foot ceiling and THIS house has no such luxury.
I have dinner candles everywhere...in drawers. Can't use them because number one...THERE'S NOT A CLEAN SURFACE ON WHICH TO PUT ONE. And number two...these kids? How fast can you BURN down a house? Don't need to know that. But if the occasion should ever arise? Candles. Got 'em.

I did have a temporary lapse last month and cleaned out the closet where we keep the computer. I carried TWO boxes of stationery/labels/cardstock/cards/etc to the school. Why in the HELL I felt it necessary to have SIX packages of notecards on the floor of a closet is beyond me. (Although true to form, the day after I gave them away...I needed one. I knew that would happen.)

If I DO need something, I buy it. That's what grown-ups do (and while I don't FEEL like a grown-up, my age and these crepey hands beg to differ.) Can't find the Easter tablecloth? TJMaxx is just WAITING on me. These glasses don't work? I know where they sell 'em.

Which brings us to the issue of gift-giving. As in...buying gifts for people you care about, who don't need anything, either. The problem is that you want them to know you care; you want them to know they're important. You do. You just don't need to give them ANYTHING ELSE TO DUST. Not ONE MORE THING to set on a shelf or stick in a cabinet or store in the garage. If you're my age? You have it. Odds are, you have more than one. (I've seen your storage shed.)

So we've been talking for the last month or so and have come up with a list of things that are appropriate for people who have lived life for a little while. People who have a house and a car and a bank account and a mortgage. It took a lot of thought, and we looked back at what has worked and not worked over the last few years and we culled some things and added some more and voila! We have...The List.

Food
Beverage

That's it. Interpret it ANY way you want but basically...this is what works. Now admittedly, there are perks. My daughter's birthday present to me this year was wines and cheeses...in a beautiful lined basket that now sits in my closet and holds socks. I have a specific set of Waterford glasses I drink my bourbon out of and I carry one of these glasses with me wherever I go...so for my birthday last year City Girl gave me a set of styrofoam cups with "Weekend Waterford" embossed on the side. For when the life guard just flat out REFUSES to let me come poolside to pick up my kids unless I put down my glass.

For his birthday last year, I gave The Big Boy an entire beef tenderloin from a farm in Tennessee...with a cool-as-shit barrel-shaped charcoal grill and smoker. On which to cook the steaks. And when Benji got married two weeks ago? A good bottle of wine with a cut-glass stopper (although truth be told? THAT one is still in the front seat of my car. Those good intentions and that paved road, you know.)

I'm thinking we need to hook up with AARP. The day BEFORE you turn 50, AARP starts ragging your ass. They send you emails and they send you junkmail and they court you every which way but down. I've asked around and while joining seems like a good thing, I haven't gotten around to doing it because...IT'S AARP. For pete's sake. I'm not that old.

Hell, I have a nine-year-old. I'll be working until I'm at least 102.

But anyway, from now on every time AARP sends out one of its come-hithers, I think they should include this article and the accompanying list. So that not one more person gives a vase. Or a piece of pottery. Not one more person gives a lamp that doesn't fit or a sweater that can't be worn or a cookbook holder just like the one you have.

Do NOT be giving me a set of silicone bakeware...I use the real stuff. And I am NOT interested in old-lady bedroom slippers...or a wallet, when I don't carry a purse...or a subscription to a magazine I've been getting for 20 years.

Food
Beverage


That's it. Nice gift bags suitable for re-gifting appreciated because THOSE are somewhere up in the attic, too.

8 comments:

Heather and Jase said...

I have this problem a lot esp. with parents gifts.

I just got my mother a potted gardenia bush for Mothers Day and Polo shirts for my days Bday.

I hate shopping for people who have everything they need, and won't tell you what they want.

The Captain's Wife said...

I am 32 and thing food and beverage are perfect! I must say I was reading this entry and cracking up...I work for a partner of the AARP :)

ICLW~

Nina said...

I feel that way now. And I'm only 30.

City Girl said...

I feel SO much better about not getting you a birthday gift this year.

You're welcome. :o)

alejna said...

Food and beverage are my favorite gifts, too. I wish that my mother-in-law would catch on.

Le laquet said...

Food and beverage have been my first choice in gifts since day 1 ... probably one of the reasons - to quote the Divine Comedy - why my "arse is the size of a small country!"

Kristin said...

I wish I could get my parents to cut down on the stuff they buy the kids.

~ICLW

Mr. Shelby said...

Your list sounds about the same as mine. It's either, food, beverage (preferably Scotch!) or cash :)

I'm enjoying your posts and am glad I found your blog.

-Mr. Shelby (from iclw)