Holiday Shopping 2021- Make Sure to Say "I see You"
The worst two presents I ever got were a multi-carat diamond ring and a Mercedes Benz convertible car.
Before you slap me, hear this: The best presents I’ve gotten cost near to nothing.
My husband David is the best gift-giver in the world. He can bring me to tears of joy with a present that cost under ten dollars. What is his secret? He pays attention.
Like a ninja of love, he sneaks into my thoughts through casual conversations and finds out something connected to my happiest childhood memories. The gift is only the tip of the iceberg of a love declaration that says “I care about you; I’m interested; I hear you.” He has mastered the art of seeing me. And for someone like me, who grew up feeling invisible and inaudible, that’s the greatest feeling in the world.
An example? Our second Christmas together he gave me castanets and finger-cymbals. When I was a little girl, I was fascinated with them. I used to take seashells, or my mother’s round, flat, metal clip-earrings, and tap them together to the rhythm of Spanish music.
The day I opened his present a seven-year-old inside me jumped so high, her head bumped the ceiling. I didn’t even remember telling him about my love for those finger-musical instruments. I wondered if he was a mind reader, had an insider in my family, or if he’d been stalking me all my life.
Do you think I’m too easy to please?
The second worst present I got on my life was a gigantic diamond ring that cost thousands of dollars.
My ex gifted it to me trying to erase from my memory my first (failed) attempt to leave him.
I used to secretly call that ring “the diamond-coated plaza.” Instead of one large stone, it had a bunch of small diamonds arranged in three levels of steps in a square. It looked ridiculously huge on my tiny hands. Therefore, it felt heavy and uncomfortable. It protruded so much, it kept scratching my baby-twins’ faces and breaking my latex gloves whenever I examined a patient.
But the reason I disliked the ring wasn’t only its lack of practicality. The ring stood as a metaphor for my unhappy relationship.
I’d never asked for diamonds; I’d asked to be treated with respect. I asked for affection, for time, for a commitment to work on the relationship. Instead I’d been given that ring as a way to shush my complains—like the hungry baby who cries for milk and, instead, someone sticks a pacifier in her mouth.
People used to tell me “You’re so lucky to have such a gorgeous ring.” But I hated the thing. Just like my relationship at that time, it didn’t fit me. It may have made another woman happy, but it wasn’t what I wanted. It wasn’t me. Every time I saw that ring, my heart tightened in pain remembering that I’d left that man once—I’d been so close to my freedom—yet, I’d fallen back in the trap of “Maybe this time he will change.”
So the price tag has little to do with how much a gift touches you. The best presents in the world are the presents which bring back the innocent joy of childhood.
And returning to childhood is what Christmas is all about.
I love everything about Christmas. The music, the family gatherings, giving presents (even more than getting them) and especially the decorations.
I’m a sucker for red, shiny things. All three cars in my household are testimony to that—They’re all metallic red, the color of red Christmas balls. Everyone close to me knows that I love red cars and have a pet-peeve against white cars. I like everything I own to be colorful.
So, the Christmas aesthetics fits my cheerful view of life. I love colorful lights (better if blinking), shiny red balls, sparkle, ornaments in bright foil paper—light, shine and color always perk me up.
For example, I never forget that Christmas tree my teenage aunt Katy set up when I was five. She made her own ornaments by wrapping matchboxes in leftovers from shiny gift-wrapping paper, then sticked tiny bows on them. They looked so beautiful, like perfect miniature presents, that I couldn’t resist opening one, searching for a tiny toy inside—which earned me a big reprimand from her. Interestingly, when I found nothing inside, I wasn’t disappointed; the sole process of opening it had been worth it.
Yes, there’s something magical about gifts beyond what’s inside. It’s about the anticipation, about staring at the colorful wrapping (or bag). About the act of pulling off the bow and tearing the paper. It’s about knowing that the person gifting it to you made an effort, and thought about you.
So, here’s a confession:
The worst present I got in my life was a luxury convertible car—which was white.
The car was a present from my ex when I was considering leaving him (again). A few weeks earlier, I had shared with him my enthusiasm about buying myself a fancy birthday present for the first time in my life: a convertible. More than that, a red convertible; a metallic red one.
Before I’d had a chance to start test driving cars, my ex sent his assistant to deliver a car to my door. One he’d chosen for me.
One that was white.
My disappointment went beyond the fact that the car was “the wrong color,” he’d missed the whole point. The main reason to buy that car was to choose it by myself. And by buying it, he’d stolen from me what I wanted the most: the process.
But the worst part? He didn’t listen.
He wasn’t listening the dozens of times I’d say near him that I didn’t like white cars. Or when I explained my plans with enthusiasm. He’d stopped paying attention after the word “convertible.”
I wasn’t heard and I wasn’t seen.
If men only knew how much money they could save if they only listened.
In our first Christmas together, my husband David, re-created aunt Katy’s Christmas tree for me.
David remembered the story I ‘d told him about the little ornaments made of matchboxes. And somewhere, he found shiny, foil-paper-wrapped tiny gift ornaments, bought them, and hung them on a small Christmas tree in his living room. My favorite part? When he said, “Now you can open as many as you want without being reprimanded.”
See what I mean? He did listen to the whole story.