What’s the most meaningful gift you’ve ever received?
I ask that question having recently come home from a gift exchange during which I was on the receiving end of a whole lot of karma — but more about that in a minute.
There are all types of gifts, and what has great meaning for one person may be much different for another. When you ask someone about a meaningful gift, they may think about a family heirloom, or something spiritual, or even a natural talent.
Sometimes, a gift is more meaningful to the person giving it than to the recipient. We’ve got a few of those items stashed around the house, tucked in a drawer or the back of the closet. They are items that were very special to someone else, and therefore, I feel like they should be special to me. Or maybe it’s something that I know the giver put some thought into, but for whatever reason, I never made the same emotional connection.
Either way, we’ve accumulated things over the years that we can’t get rid of because they’re special, even though these gifts might not be special to me.
In fact, the most meaningful gift I’ve received is a keychain. My wife gave it to me when we first started dating. It’s a leather strip with a brass plate that has “I love you” etched into it. I’ve had it with me every day for almost 24 years. I cherish it even more than my wedding ring.
At this point, it’s become pretty well worn. It’s hard to read some of the letters on the brass plate. I even had to re-attach the loop holding the key ring with some glue, but the leather is getting old and thin in other places, too. I could save it as it is, and put it in a drawer, but as a gift with special meaning, I’d rather keep it with me. Perhaps someday I’ll have to cut a new strip of leather, and rivet the brass plate to it. The drawer is for things that don’t mean quite as much to me.
That brings me back to our gift exchange, and to karma. You see, in addition to the gifts you hang on to because someone else thinks they’re special, there are gifts you hang on to so that one day you may re-gift them.
We happened to have just such an item in our closet — an electronic, battery-powered, light-up corkscrew for opening wine bottles. It was not of much use to us because, quite frankly, most of our wine comes from a box.
I think the corkscrew came to us from a different white elephant gift exchange, and I figured last year’s white elephant gift exchange would be the perfect opportunity to unload it — I mean, make a lovely holiday gift of it to somebody else.
Apparently, last year’s recipients had the same plan. So, when my turn came to pick a gift from the pile, karma intervened, and the gift that I had re-gifted came back to me. And for some reason, nobody wanted to take it from me.
On the bright side, I already know exactly what I’ll be bringing to next year’s white elephant, but the experience has taught me something important. Next time, I’m going to include a nice bottle of wine with the electric corkscrew, so the recipient will have a reason to actually take it out of the box and use it. Hopefully, that will improve my karma, too, because I fully expect the corkscrew to come back to me again a year after that.
As the gift-giving season draws to a close, I sincerely hope that you are able to find meaning in gifts both given and received.
And if anyone needs to open a bottle of wine, I’ve got the perfect gift for you.
Will Morrow lives in Kenai. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.