I’m feeling like we need some more joyful holiday spirit stuff to talk about, so, anyone care to share what they feel was the best gift they gave for Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, etc. if you want) to someone?
Me? I’m super excited to see my dad’s reaction to what my mom and I cooked up for this year, but I’m not gonna say what it is just yet, just in case
My ex-boyfriend John was a big time music lover and had an hour commute every day. He drove an old car with a crappy am/fm radio. I arranged to have his car stereo replaced with a new car stereo with a CD player (this was probably 10 years ago). I took his old stereo and wrapped it and put it under the tree. He opened the present and initially thought I had given him the same car stereo he already had, but I said something like “well, if that’s YOUR car stereo, what’s in your car now?” We had to run outside in our pajamas to see and he was pretty thrilled.
Many years ago when my kids and their cousins were young and my husband and I both got great bonuses we bought tickets to the Lion King in Toronto for the entire family. 4 generations, 22 seats and dinner at the Old Spagetti Factory before the show. It was also the year that my shopping was done the quickest One 15 min call to buy them, 20 mins stuffing envelopes with the tickets and arrangements for dinner and presto, done.
This year I expect a similar reaction from my husband, I bought him a lesson with a glass blower. 5 hours, maxium 6 students, he’s going to love it.
I went into labor with my firstborn on the evening of December 25th, 2002. My husband nearly lost his car keys in a foot of snow that night. He lost his heart to our eldest daughter early the next morning.
I have told this story here before. It really is my favorite gift.
Back when I was poor I would start buying gifts in August so that I could get one gift each pay check and not end up too much in debt. When I first started my career, I continued this for a similar reason (actually I still buy gifts all year, pretty much out of habit.)
One year on a whim, I bought my parents a Nintendo. I think it was Nintendo 64. It was kind of a weird gift, because my folks weren’t into games or anything, but for some reason I bought one.
Then I had about 3 months to get freaked out. It was a lot of money to me then and so I started second and third guessing. Was it going to be a waste? Would they think it was stupid? Would it just sit and not be used? I was feeling pretty stupid by the time Christmas came.
My folks loved it. We set it up and they played Ms. Packman incessantly. That first year they played every single day except for the one day when Dad had walking pnemonia. Mom would get up in the middle of the night and catch Dad practicing on-the-sly, so he could beat her the next night. They’d come back from a trip and say: Just one game - and then they’d be playing until near mid-night.
Dad has passed, but Mom still occasionally mentions those years with fondness.
My dad’s a tough guy to shop for, but one year I found something I knew he wouldn’t have: information from Ellis Island. I found a picture of the ship my grandfather came to America on when he was 15, a page of information about the ship and its history, and a scan of the ship’s manifest with my grandfather’s entry, including where he was staying when he got to America. I had them printed large-format on nice paper, suitable for framing (although I couldn’t afford to get it framed myself). My dad had them all put into a nice, custom-matted frame, which is still hanging in their house.
I got my dad a new plush bathrobe around the time he retired (2005?) I think he’s worn it every day since then. And not just after the shower, I mean when he gets up every morning and sits around for a few hours.
Most impressive: My father’s family was one of the founding families of the short-lived Cotapaxi colony in Colorado. A few years ago I found a site that sold a poster about the colony, with a picture taken around 1888. He went out and had it framed immediately, although I’m pretty sure he never hung it – it’s still leaning against the wall.
Most used: A tie between the NetFlix subscription I bought my parents and a fairly bland giraffe print scarf I bought my mother – she has worn that thing every single day for about 5 years.
I gave my mom a cruise one year. She wasn’t too sure at first when she opened the gift and saw a scrap book, but as she began to realize it was for her to fill, she started to cry. I knew I had done good.
Back when my daughters were in their late teens and impossible to buy for, we gave them “the wad”. We tried gift certificates to their favorite stores or the mall, but there always seemed to be something they decided they would like after the fact that wasn’t covered by the certificates. So the first year of ‘the wad’ I went to the bank and got a pile of $20s. I wrapped each one in a different size box. The first one they opened was “Oh. Thanks. Twenty dollars”. By the time they opened the tenth box they were pretty thrilled.
I tried to do something different with “the wad” in each of the subsequent years. The last year I rolled it up very tight and wrapped it to look like a tube of lipstick. We opened stockings last in our family and I stuck it way down in the toe. When they finally found it they were super excited.
“We thought we weren’t getting ‘the wad’ this year!”
My best friend, who lives in England, has been wistfully talking about Starcraft: the Board Game for months, if not years. It’s out of print and goes for around $125 on eBay, not to mention that the damn thing is ginormous and weighs about 16 pounds so shipping one is completely out of the question. He would just talk about it in terms of, “Man, if I ever become independently wealthy, I’d love to get my hands on a copy of that.”
I stalked the UK eBay site until I found someone selling a used one and then sniped the bid at the last minute to get it for a reasonable price, and had it shipped directly to my friend.
He was delightfully shocked and thrilled. I think my Christmas gift was seeing him open his Christmas gift. (We were Skyping when he opened it.)
I recalled hearing my mom mention in passing at some point in my youth about how my dad had “always wanted a donkey.”
In '89 (me about to turn 19) we moved to a piece of property, more than the house-with-yard in which we’d always lived to that point, 7 acres with a small barn. We moved in the horse and pony from the board place.
In '94, I’m married and living 15 minutes away; a few days before Christmas my folks were taken aback (so I was told) at the horse-trailer rolling in the driveway, then unloading the jenny I’d picked out a couple weeks prior.