There are different philosophies of giving and getting gifts. One is that this is somewhat of a transactional process. You definitely want to give the person something he/she wants, so the best approach is to agree on a general budget, get the person’s approval for the gift, then purchase it.
I know this is rational. But I tend to go more for the “it’s the thought that counts” concept. If I need something, I buy it for myself. A gift is great if the person thought about what I’d like and, on their own, figured out that I’d be surprised and delighted.
My husband is generally more in the first category. So most years we have this conversation where he attempts to get me to tell him what I want, and I tell him that he should just pick something he thinks I’d like. He then sometimes attempts to show me a few things and get me to pick and I demur and so forth.
Which is why I’m absolutely thrilled with my birthday present this year: A map of the British and French settlements in North America from 1755. I love old maps. I always linger in the map rooms at museums. I study globes. It’s something I’ve mentioned, off-hand, that I’d love to collect someday, but have never actually done. (There were a lot of old maps printed, so while it’s not a cheap hobby, it’s a lot cheaper than collecting many other kinds of art).
Yesterday I come home to this big box. I open it to find this lovely map, which was printed in “Gentlemen’s Magazine” in London before the states were even states. The coastline around our neck of the woods is well mapped, but features like Lake Huron are more sketchy. The Native American tribes are listed, and some now big towns have names like “Ft. Toronto.”
I had no idea he’d picked this out. I’d never asked for a map. It was a complete surprise, and it is awesome! Not just the map itself, but also knowing that my husband remembered my interest in maps and thought to find an antique dealer. Now I have to figure out a good Christmas present for him. Of course, the good thing about marrying a more rational gift giver is he’ll probably just tell me.
What gifts have you been most excited to give or receive?