Thursday, April 1, 2010

Giving is half the fun

Especially as I have gotten older, ordinary gifting has lost its appeal. It’s not that I don’t want to honor people on their special days or celebrate holidays or big events. I love all of that hoopla. But I am one of those people who really tries to match the “perfect” gift with the recipient. I take pride in trying to find just the right thing for that special someone and at times, the task can be hard.

As you can imagine, with the advent of chain stores in every mall in America, there is little I can buy that is truly unique anywhere. Giftees are imminently more practical today as well. How many cool stainless steel coffee cups does one need? Yes, they may find themselves attracted to the occasional hot new gimmick I purchase, but in the end, we all know the unspoken truth is that the gift will probably end up at next year’s church charity bazaar. So what’s left? Gift cards are available from every store imaginable but they are good for only one store and a check if lost, is so much more secure than a gift card. Cash? Oh sure who in their right mind would send cash today? Hmmm … sounds like an interesting challenge.

One such favorite cash gift we gave was all about the packaging. For my nephew’s graduation, I acquired a small sack of those gold looking Sacagawea $1 coins. I went to a Goodwill store and bought the dirtiest little stuffed bunny I could find. When I got home, my wife performed abdominal surgery on that unlucky rabbit and wrapped the coins tightly in his little bunny stuffing innards. My wife, sewed the little guy back up so the stitch was completely invisible and we shipped him off for the upcoming celebration.

Now this particular nephew has gotten used to our pranks over the years, so to make the receipt of a dirty bunny a believable gift, I included a touching letter. This fictional letter explained that the rabbit used to be our daughter’s favorite stuffed animal and she wanted her cousin to have it for good luck. We figured that would prevent my nephew from recoiling in horror upon opening the gift and throwing away ‘Mr. Stitchy’; or at least long enough until he could discover the secret stomach stash.

The final account of that rabbit’s life was told to us second hand, since we were 2000 miles away at the time of the party. Though my nephew politely received the gift as a true honor, his kid sister was so enchanted with that dumb bunny that he GAVE it to her. We hadn’t told anyone about the gag, so when we made our congratulatory follow-up phone call, we were audibly dismayed to hear that the little sister had LOST the ‘booty bunny’ out the car window by accident. We were crushed. We had hoped to share in the expectation of a mutual hearty laugh at our creative packaging, but instead we were frustrated, shocked and saddened instead at our stupidity and bad luck.

Uh, at least for a minute or two. Our dubious family of double-crossers were ACTUALLY on to us and had decided to GIVE us a taste of our own rabbit stew. It must have worked as we have swallowed that bitter pill for the first and last time. We still like to give creative gifts. But we did learn a valuable lesson about perfect gifting… ONLY stuff dusty bunnies with gift cards – cash can get lost all too easily!

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