I had an impromptu dinner with a friend the other night and said to her: "Oh, there was this great gift I didn't buy you today. It was a Lego Architectural series of the Empire State Building."
"That was a great gift not to get me." She said.
See my friend collects little metal buildings of icons like the Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, etc. Of course, these days she collects lots less of anything since she, too, moved into a small, downtown condo. And the Lego, though sleek and wonderful-looking was real off topic. (Not a metal souvenir. Something I might like better than she would, etc.) Collections can begat gifts like that. Gifts that are not, in and of themselves, stupid (like Billy Bass, but we aren't going to talk about bad gifts I've received) but just, well, not right for the person at the moment. I'd just given her the idea of the gift, a laugh. We aren't really exchanging gifts this year.
I've written before about gifts...here in the Journal of Unintended Consequences (a dormant blog I intend to revive any day now) and here in this blog about the economics of gifts.
Today I'm just talking about specific things that I remember giving or getting that were especially egregious or particularly wonderful for some reason.
Some wonderful gifts I've given: a laundry basket with pop-up legs; a check to a Junior College for an extension class in loom weaving; and some iPod Touches (this season); a very tiny loose leaf Filofax (in the pre-PDA and Smartphone era); a bunch of Nissan stainless commuter cups. I can't really remember too many others that worked out so well that I gave someone. It was just the right gift at the right time to the right person. Or so it seemed. I'm sure there have been others. And many of the opposite kind.
Some wonderful gifts I've received: many books I wanted or would have if I'd known they'd existed; a Buzz Lightyear room protector; a gadget with a handle that becomes legs to hold tennis ball waist-high and is a wire cage with the wires just far enough apart to compress a tennis ball and let it in and not out.
Some truly awful gifts I've given: a talking bathroom scale; a Melita drip coffee maker; various electronics (answering machine, VCR, etc.) to my in-laws who don't do well with technology. This year, though, they ask for TV ears and FFP bought them, charged them and set them up and it seems to be going over well.
Ah, well, money, gift certificates (although they can be to the wrong place or for the wrong thing) and booze (although, you know, the right booze and for a drinker) always seem to fit.
For a couple of years in the old (big) house, FFP and I would wrap up books for each other...that we found on the shelves in the house. There were often some pleasant surprises.
To say that gift giving is fraught with peril, or was in the days before the very specific on-line wish list, is an understatement. But I do like the look of gaily-wrapped gifts.
[Picture is from 2005 when we still lived in the 'big house.' No tree but a decorated glass and wrought iron table with presents on it.] There is a large, flat present in the foreground. What in the world was in there?]