A day of gift giving, my family gathered to celebrate the holidays early. As usual, I was the master distributor of the 75-odd gifts (or more) to the anticipating gift-ees. The small children lent a hand.
My two adult children (or near) stared into their phones but were grateful and gracious, for the most part. They liked what I surprised them with this year–Totoro themed shirts and tiny ceramic hedgehog planters from the gift store at the Japanese market–the small gifts as appetizers to the main dish, the blue and white wrapped cash wad.
Some years I’m not as successful. I’m not good at giving or receiving gifts. I mean, I’m thankful in just the right degree, I’m sure, when given presents. But gifts trigger slight anxiety in me, a discomfort with the offering.
First, I don’t want for anything, and especially material things. Second, the offeror anticipates my response. All givers want to know they chose well, or already know they haven’t but hope to be surprised, or just want to get past the whole ordeal.
It’s excruciating the subtle yet deeply cutting undertones, nuances and inflections inherent in gift exchanges. Always lurking behind the handing over is “Will he/she like it?” And the risk is “No, he/she has that overly thankful, forced corners way up smile with nothing behind the eyes.” Nope. Rejection.
Honestly, the best gifts I’ve ever received, I can’t even remember. My husband gifted me lovely, thoughtful treasures through the years, from fashion wear to Shiraz to diamonds, but my most treasured gifts were bestowed upon me un-offered.
I inherited a good sense of humor, and so many people happenstance’d into my days with a laugh and an irony for smirks. My mother’s logophilia seeped into my bones too, and I can’t measure that reward, that unearned prize.
I have long legs and patience, capacious passion and anger, boundless love and delicate touch, all ignited at the thrust of that last push and first inhale–at birth. My DNA, what a gift! And those who’ve spent their time with me, enjoyed my story, shit on me, broke my heart, and prayed for me, all presents: bow-less, ribbon-less and priceless clay-of-me potters.
I remember those gifts by name.