The gifts we remember the longest are not always the best or the most expensive. It is the gifts that create memories, the gifts that are a part of a story that endure. With that definition in mind, here are some of the most memorable gifts I gave or received-
1- A blue 3-speed bike, with a basket. The gift embodies my childhood. My older brother got a 10-speed, the ultimately cool bike of that era, and my twin and I got 3-speeds with a basket. It's good I was too young for a man card, for a bike with a basket would have resulted in instant revocation. To add insult to injury, on the inaugural ride later that morning I didn't pay attention to where I was going and crashed into the neighbor's camper and damaged the bike.
2- A ukelele. There is nothing wrong with a ukelele- I just didn't want one. At All. I had been taking banjo lessons, so somehow my father concluded that I would like a ukelele. Uh... no. It is reminds me how, as a child of divorce, my father did not know me very well at all. (He apparently knew my twin brother who got a totally awesome catcher's mitt! But I am not jealous...)
3- A table-top Pac-man video game. A gift from Lisa our first Christmas together. I played it for hours. It is a part of one of our favorite memories, as I took it (and a large container of her awesome Christmas sugar cookies) with us on a weekend trip to Big Bear. We stayed in a rickety cabin, it snowed, and we found a secluded hill where we inner tubed in the fresh snowfall. Best. First. Christmas. Ever.
4- Stinky golf-ball Christmas ornaments, emblazoned with cheesy golf cliches. I am not making this one up. My mother, who I rarely saw, came by my office unannounced to drop off the “gift”. The packaging reeked of smoke, and the ornaments were not suitable for any sane person's Christmas tree. A symbol of my relationship with my my mother, wrapped in a bow.
5- A Jane Fonda workout tape. I actually gave this to Lisa. What kind of an idiot is so stupid as to give his wife a workout tape for Christmas? This kind of idiot.
6- A photo mug. Lisa took 6 year-old Nate and one year-old Jamie shopping at the mall. They posed for one of those “put your photo on a mug” mugs to give me as a gift. Nate was so excited. He burst through the door when they got home, loudly proclaiming, “Daddy, we got you a mu-,” before realizing he wasn't supposed to say anything! We still laugh at this one.
7- Puff paint T-shirts. We were tight on money in 1989. It was my last year in medical school, and Lisa was 8 months pregnant. We set ourselves a limit of $25 to spend on each other, so I bought T-shirts and a Teddy Bear stencil. I painted bears on the shirts, one for each of us, and wrote the words “Baby Barrett”, “Mommy Barrett” and “Daddy Barrett” on the t-shirts. The shirts were a big hit. It was not then, nor is it now, about the money.
8- A bat handle hat rack. In 2004 I moved into my new office. Each room has a theme, and for the baseball room I wanted a baseball bat hat rack. I had seen one online and thought it would be awesome. I put it on my list. My father-in-law couldn't find one to buy online, so he made one. He went to a bat factory and bought broken bats for two of the handles, and then made two bat handles on his lathe. It was perfect. He was like that. He made things for the people he loved, and he made it clear then that he loved me. It was the last Christmas I shared with him (he died 4 months later) but the gift and the memory remain.
These are some of my memories, I would love to hear yours. Here is praying that your Christmas will be filled with wonderful stories and happy memories, but most of all that you will remember the greatest Gift of all, the Savior who was born.
Got any gift stories? Share them in the comments!