I may be the world’s worst gift recipient. My first unspoken reaction is “Aww. This is nice but what I really wanted was (insert anything but the given gift).” My second? “You shouldn’t have. Really. I mean it.” My not-big-to-begin-with house continues to shrink because of stuff accumulation. I’m purging not purchasing. Anyone who rings the doorbell is greeted with a take-away offer. Yesterday the solar panel guy refused 2 table lamps, a dartboard and a George Foreman grill. The nerve. But that’s okay. It’s almost Girl Scout cookie season and they’re trained to be polite, right?
Diamonds might be your best friend. Or perhaps you’re still gazing out at your driveway, looking for a Lexus tied with a big red bow. Some folks spend their birthdays in fancy restaurants anticipating the approach of the wait staff with a flickering chocolate cake. And that’s okay. Just put me on a plane instead.
However, nothing tickles me more than an honest to gosh surprise. And this year I received two that were wonderful. My mom and dad, devilishly inspired by one of my recent posts declaring my new year’s travel resolutions, presented me with a coffee table book entitled A Practical Manual of Camping, Hiking and Wilderness Techniques. I howled and then dove in. Ah! How to build a campfire. Yes! Creating a basic survival kit. And I finally unlocked the mystery of contour lines on a topo map. Genius. Pure genius. Bring on the zombies – I stand a chance of surviving Day One now. Perhaps I should buy a bow? Of course, then, I was stumped. What do you get the grandparent who has everything?
Then an unordered box arrived from Amazon. Instead of phoning HazMat and reaching for the anthrax antidote, I tore the box open and squealed. Literally. I’d ruthlessly quizzed two of my beloved college chums about their lengthy stay in Amsterdam since I’m heading there this summer; they were marooned in the city during the Icelandic volcanic explosions in 2010. They provided me with superb hotel recommendations and the location of a kiosk where you can buy discounted tickets to evening performances. And, because they’re wonderful, they sent me the surprise box containing a street map and walking guide. Score!
If you’re looking for the perfect gift for someone and you know they’re planning a trip, consider sending them a guidebook, map or novel set in their destination. It will be greatly appreciated and used with love. Oh. Chocolate cake is never a bad idea either.