I believe in good gift giving. I’m not one for practical gifts, nor for asking people what gift they want and simply buying it for them. I don’t want to give people gifts they could buy themselves. I don’t like giving gift cards, or money, or anything impersonal. That’s not what gifts are about.
I view gifts as a creative ode to the receiver. Highlighting their interests, recognizing their tastes, and even delivering gratitude for their very being. If I can do that with a well-executed theme at the same time, even better! Some people, of course, are harder to give gifts to than others, though.
When I was a sophomore in University, I briefly dated a guy named Leo, for about two months. Our relationship happened to coincide with Christmastime, so I was put to the task of buying him a Christmas gift. I was up for the challenge.
At the time, Leo had been expressing a strong desire to save up money and move out of his parents’ house. He wanted to buy a condo in downtown Leafton. On this notion, I set the basis of my gift. I bought him a shiny silver castle piggy bank. Along the top, in fancy scrawl well suited for a castle I had the words, “Condo Fund” engraved. Just to put my gift over the top, I filled the bank with my own personal collection of pennies, which were not yet defunct at the time. There were hundreds of them.
“Condo fun? I don’t get it.” My friend Paul commented. I’d asked him to come with me to the mall to pick my perfect gift up. I was starting to regret it.
I rolled my eyes, annoyed. Paul could be so dense sometimes. “Not condo fun, condo FUND. Like money. Savings. Like this is my contribution to his big dream, helping him buy a condo.”
“But you’re just going to fill it with pennies? He can’t buy a condo with pennies.”
“It’s symbolic of my support!!” I exclaimed, deeply offended that he wasn’t marveling at my marvelous gift idea. I find it rather hard to deal with people who don’t understand my way of thinking. Wasn’t it obvious? “He doesn’t want to buy a castle either! He wants to buy a condo. But then he’ll be like the king of his own castle.”
Paul never did marvel at the idea.
A few days after Christmas, Leo and I went to have a belated holiday meal at a restaurant and to finally exchange gifts. I was still so confident with my gift, that I insisted he open mine first. I handed over his package, pristinely wrapped with the Three Wise Men paper I’d been so lucky to find. I watched his face intently as he pulled the castle out of its cardboard and styrofoam.
“What is it?” He asked as the pennies rattled inside. His face was blank, unmoved. “A piggy bank?”
My conversation with Paul sprung to mind, and I wondered if all men were this vapid. No. They couldn’t be. I urged, “read the inscription.”
“Condo fund?” He read in his annoying nasally voice. “Well, that’s cute…”
I began to panic. I wasn’t used to my gifts falling so flat. I began to wonder if it really had been a dumb idea. Maybe it wasn’t a sweet gift at all. Maybe I’d messed up and given my new boyfriend a truly bizarre gift indeed. I should have just bought him a punny t-shirt instead.
My apprehensions about my gift were suddenly put at ease shortly after I opened his gift. I was nearly beside myself as I pulled from his bag, beneath a single sheet of tissue paper, a straw voodoo doll with a grainy picture of his own face printed flat on the head of the doll. He’d ordered the atrocity from some random website online. He hadn’t even bothered to carefully select an attractive looking picture of himself! My eyes widened and for a moment, I couldn’t speak. I wanted to cry. I wanted to shove the doll back in the box and hurl it in the garbage. I would. I would hurl it in the garbage. What on earth would I want that for!
“I thought it was funny,” Leo snickered at his own narcissistic gift, unable to detect my horror. And that was it with the gift too. He bought it because he thought it was funny. It was devoid of any further thought or sentiment. I couldn’t believe he’d had the gall to even question my gift. I wondered if by some ironic twist of fate, somewhere, someone was attacking their lame Alexis voodoo doll. It sure felt like it.
Needless to say, I broke up with him shortly thereafter.