A Word In Edgewise: In the Spirit of Giving

Photo by BigStock/golubovy
Photo by BigStock/golubovy

Photo by BigStock/golubovy

Eventually, one has fewer intimates to whom one gives gifts, less spondulix to lavish on them, and, like you, they already have everything they need—and often much more. Moreover, even best friends, and certainly family, don’t always share the same tastes. “An antique silver cow creamer! How…thoughtful. You shouldn’t have…”

And you shouldn’t. But how to pare down? If you’re planning to actually get together with loved ones, I’d wager everyone would balk at the suggestion they sit around the fire writing out checks.

Food has always made safe gifting, and it’s been hard to go wrong with unique coffees, luscious truffles, or other tidbits of the recipient’s fantasies. Today, however, you may discover that Aunt May is vegan, recoiling at her once-loved wild salmon treats, Uncle Louie is totally keto, and your sister’s religiously gluten-free. A gifting minefield.

My list—those precious few—and I have become more pragmatic, asking directly, “What would you like?” or more subtly, “Would you like a …?” This latter approach, in full disclosure, may contain unexpected pitfalls and surprises. At my last birthday, when a close friend asked at if I’d like an Instant Pot, I jumped at the idea; everyone is raving about theirs, and I pictured corned beef briskets rising in perfection from the waters in under an hour. As I type, it sits gleaming on my counter. Unused. I’m afraid of it. Belatedly, I recalled why I never took up canning back in the ‘70s with my never-used pressure cooker.

A childhood chum and I talk on the phone weekly. About this time of year, one of us asks the other, “What card?” and we exchange choices, receive notice of their existence, and at the appropriate time buy exactly what we want. I used to scour the Internet for arcane jigsaw puzzles for her, but learned that, like Meerschaum pipes, they’re very user-specific. It’s fun post-holiday to share what we got and thank one another.

Wherever you are on the gifting spectrum this season, for whichever holiday, I wish you good fortune not only for your celebration, but in the choice of your giving. There are also many programs and agencies that need help year-round, and even I keep a couple on my list.

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