Monday, January 9, 2012

"The Best Gift"

It's not that we have an official competition or anything. We don't really. On the whole, we're not that competitive. Still we all (that would be the Big Guy, Ratchlet, and me, the official Christmas shoppers), try very hard to find gifts that are suited to each other....books by favorite authors, the newest CD from a favorite artist, a canister set that would be just perfect for a newly-remodeled kitchen (but wasn't), the toy a child just can't live without....I'm sure everyone does that kind of thing to some extent.

We go a step or two further than some.  If we should happen to stumble upon something we had never even thought about, that would be absolutely and completely right for someone in our family, well, that is a definite mitzvah, a blessing!  (Hey, I'm playing a Jewish mother in my upcoming wears off, you know?)  If we find that something we know in our hearts, will touch the recipient with some emotional connection, well, we know it will be "The Best Gift".  I wrote about this breifly in a previous post, (from a Christmas-Past.)  The ultimate, most successful and wonderful-est gift is the one that brings the tears.

Please don't think we are weird! It isn't that we want to make each other cry! It's just that we each hope that one special gift (always the last one to be opened) will be truly perfect! We do this with all the love in our hearts for each other. It doesn't happen every year for every one of us. In fact, some years no one gets a "best gift". And that's okay. It is a matter of happenstance or serendipity or divine inspiration or possibly just good luck to come across the best gift. It is rarely the most expensive thing received. The monetary value has nothing to do with it. It doesn't come from the most exclusive store. In fact, sometimes it has been purchased in a thrift, resale, or consignment store, it might have been found in some random catalog, or a small specialty store, or a big department store.  It may be not much more than a small memento of some event or experience or interest.   There’s no planning it.  It’s one of those “know it when you see it” kind of things.  It might be new or it might not. It might mean absolutely nothing to anyone one else in the world, but for the right person....ahhhh, it brings a lump in the throat and tears to the eyes and great joy knowing that someone in your family knows you so well, that they managed to find a best gift just for you.

Over the years, we have hit it many times with Ratchlet, we did it frequently with my mom, occasionally with my sister, even few times with my dad. I am an easy mark....I cry more often than anyone. If you've never had a similar experience, this may not mean much to you. But in our family getting a "best gift" is the ultimate in happiness and love. I know that M-t-G is still too young for us to identify a "best gift" for her, her tastes are still forming, she is not overly sentimental, she is enamored of everything she gets….to her they are all “best”.  TA is another story.  Gifts are not important to him.  His family functioned differently and sometimes he just doesn’t quite get the whole gift thing at all.  His enjoyment comes from the togetherness and family.

My mom was a magician at Christmas.  She was able to give us all a wonderful Christmas every year, no matter how low the coffers might have been.  She started this “tradition” many, many years ago.  She was the most loving and giving woman, and at Christmas, Mom was at her very best.  She always went overboard as far as numbers of gifts and she, too, would hit with the “best gift” for one of us nearly every year.  So this has been a part of Christmas for my whole life.  Mikey and I have always tried for the same loving and happy Christmas that Mom gave us.  We love our family’s Christmas and all it’s traditions. 

And this year, there was a “best gift”.  It was perhaps, the best “best gift” ever!  And it was for someone who frequently was able to give “best gifts”, but had never experienced one himself.  Yes, the  recipient of the best gift this year was my Mikey!  Despite years of thinking that maybe this year will be the one.  This will be the time, I manage to find the perfect gift for him, the “best gift”.  There have been many times that he has really liked one gift or another, but the ultimate indication of the “best gift” never occurred.  No tears.  No “crying for happy.”  No special feeling of sentiment and emotion all tied up in love and joy.   And year after year, I felt let down when my hopes were dashed again.  I just never hit it quite right.  I wanted to find the perfect thing that would let Mikey feel the same happiness that the rest of us had felt knowing that we were loved so much and known so well!  It didn’t happen.  It was frustrating, but I kept trying.

I am almost reluctant to tell you what it was.  It wasn’t incredibly expensive, it wasn’t all that exotic or rare, it wasn’t something that everyone would want, or even something that would be special for most people.  But it was special for my Mikey. Mikey's heritage is Irish, his grandparents came here from County Mayo.  His Dad had spent some time in Ireland as a young man.  That heritage is imporant to Mikey.  The last present he opened this year was a genuine,  Irish Shillelagh, made by hand from blackthorn wood harvested from remote areas of County Wicklow, Cork, or Kerry in Ireland  along with a certificate of authenticity.  It was beautiful in a gnarly sort of way, highly polished, and just the right height for a walking stick.   He absolutely loved it. 

This isn't it, but it is very similar!
 It was a great moment!  After forty plus years, Mikey finally got his “best gift”!!  And he cried for happy! 

Merry Christmas, Bunky!


  1. I'm adding my happiness to Mikey's. How marvelous to get such a beautiful walking stick. They're the best. I have a cheap stick that I climb the mountain with. It sure gets me where I want to go. And it's even better coming "down" the mountain.

  2. How grand! We have had some of those "best gift" moments down through the years, too. It's hard to do with children, but once in a while I can get the perfect or "best" gift for my two adult kids. My late wife was the champion gifter, tho.
    It was close this year, though. My 19 month old grandson presented me an "original" watercolor (by him) in a simple black frame. Of all the gifts I got, that one gave me a "lump." I have it hanging in a very prominent place in my living room. I can understand your son-in-law's "thing" about gifts. My daughter in law was raised in much different circumstances that my two, and sometimes she doesn't "get" it either. For her, having a family to call her own and being together is the most important. She didn't have much family interaction growing up.
    Thanks for sharing. I know exactly what you're talking about. (Oh gee, are we surprised at that??? NOT!) I love Christmas!

  3. What a gret "rememberie"! That feeling, those tears, that joy will last a lifetime! You did goooood!

    Funny yiou wrote this as this year I was the reciepent of the Best Gift - a memory box and letters from my whole family; sisters, daughters, sons and nieces and grand-girlies and friends all saying what I mean to them..I cried like a baby..and it was all caught on film!

    Tell your Irish sweetie that I too have both sets of grandparents(they had all passed prior to my birth) so I know the whole "Irish-pride" thing :-)

  4. Thanks for sharing the link for this post with me. We always do something very personal for each of our girls but my husband and I don't tend to do that for each other. This year, we will make it happen! Thank you. I love this approach to the holiday.


Thanks so much for leaving a comment. It's really nice knowing what you think!! Besides, comments keep me from feeling like I'm here all by myself!! :)

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