Monday, November 08, 2004

Gifts from the heart

Reader participation kindly requested...

I grew up horribly poor. At about age 11, I went to live with my maternal great grandparents (ironic isn't it, how I still have living great grandparents? I come from a long line of early, and apparently easy 'breeders'), and perhaps four months after I moved in with them my "Papaw" as I called him, died suddenly of advanced colon cancer and lymphoma. He went in for a checkup at the doctor's office for unexplained bleeding, and just never came home. He was the sole breadwinner in the family, and he left only enough money in the bank to pay the monthly bills, no life insurance, no savings, nothing. He was a mechanic with a sixth grade education, and we were left literally penniless. A lot of people and organizations came out of the woodwork to help us stay above water. Strange people I didn't know bought me a winter coat and new shoes, and delivered heaps of clothes and toiletries to our house. We depended on food stamps and church handouts just to eat. And, even though we had nothing, those are some of the best memories I have of childhood. My "Granny" and I had each other, and thankfully a roof over our head and food in the pantry.

When M. and I got married, we were both students. We had moved into a rental house that we really couldn't afford, and were struggling financially. We saved and bought cheap Christmas gifts for our families, but didn't purchase any material item for each other. Instead, we drove a little out of the way during our trip home, and stayed at a cheap B&B in New Orleans and just walked around the streets, holding hands, and people watching. That evening was one of my favorite times we've had together.

Last year was better financially for us, and this year I can say that we are definitely considered to be in the "middle class" even if our collective student loans rival mortgage payments on a stately home. We have the opportunity this year to lavish each other with expensive gifts, but I want something more (or I suppose I should say less).

I want to get him something thoughtful, something amazing... which shows him how special he is to me, and not just how much money I can spend. M's birthday is immediately after christmas, so I have double gift duty coming up. For his 40th, I tried to look up random people he has known from high school through his doctoral studies and have them send in a "memory page" that I wanted to have bound in a book. It didn't pan out exactly as I would have hoped, because I just couldn't find a lot of people, but it was still well received. It meant a tremendous amount to him, and it didn't cost me much at all, other than lost billable hours, and let's be honest, what's more important?

But apparently that little project utlized all my creative ideas. So, I'm asking you to share, what has been the most meaningful gift someone has given you (or you have given someone)? While I certainly love hearing about sparkly diamond tennis bracelets, I am really looking for ideas regarding gifts that weren't necessarily expensive or even store bought, but that were from the heart (not that expensive gifts aren't - but I hope you know what I mean).

[And of course, if anyone has unique ideas for a baseball fanatic fishing attorney who likes microbrews and college football, please feel free to pass that along as well...]

[And yes, I think we all know what I would like to give him, more than anything this year, but there are some things that no matter how much I wish for, or how much money I spend, just don't seem to be on Santa's list of feasible options this Christmas.]


At 7:42 PM, Blogger Toni said...

So maybe not the best idea - but what about going back to New Orleans?

At 1:22 AM, Blogger Nico said...

I know this was ages ago, but a meaningful gift is a meaningful gift anytime, right? My favorite "gift" from M was when he left me a note taped to my computer screen saying that he loved me and that "you are the best" - our little phrase that we say to each other. I didn't want to throw it away, so I just flipped it up out of the way. Every now and again he flips it back down again, and it always gives me a warm fuzzy.

I once made a powerpoint presentation for him that listed all the reasons HE is the best, with appropriate pictures taken from our various times together. e.g. he's the best 'coz he shovels the snow - with a picture of him in his silly hat after one of our big storms.

I totally agree with you that a diamond tennis bracelet is nothing compared to memories and a little romance.


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