What is the last gift you gave someone? The latest gift I've given is a 15” signed, numbered Nambe serving tray. It is variously textured and features a spiral pattern which my boyfriend Bruce particularly likes. I caught him admiring it on ebay and knew it was unlikely he would buy it for himself, so I did.
What is the first gift you remember receiving? The first gift I remember receiving was from a neighborhood friend, Brian Belk. We were too young to be in school yet but I remember I loved to play with Brian. The curb border of my house was filled with gazania flowers which attracted butterflies which we liked to catch. Brian’s mom, Nancy would spread out a bamboo mat on their lush lawn and serve us sandwiches that tasted funny. It took me years to learn that weird taste was Miracle Whip (we were mayonnaise people) The gift was a beautiful gold mouse pin with red jeweled eyes and a jointed tail that felt a lot like a real rat’s tail. It was a high quality, quite detailed piece of jewelry, much nicer than most would think to give a preschool girl. But I loved Brian who was shy with most people and had a stutter. I was devastated when his family moved away. I had that pin in my jewelry box until it was stolen in a robbery when I was in my late thirties.
What is the first gift you remember giving? I know I would have given many gifts before this, but the one I remember giving was a gift to my brother David when I was in the second grade. I had been allowed to accompany my grandmother, my Aunt Idona and her husband Uncle Tommy to Utah to visit my Aunt Nelda where I was so happy and impressed that I vowed then and there I was going to move to Utah as soon as I was free to do so. My brother had been left at home and I was so sorry about that that I spent my own money to buy him a green Tonka trunk and a family sized bag of plain M&Ms back when they were delicious. My brother appreciated the gifts and returned one to me, his case of THE MUMPS.
What is a gift you’ve received that has totally surprised you? I once opened a letter from my boyfriend who was away for the summer at college in Bellingham Washington. We wrote to one another frequently but this time I opened a thinner than usual envelope and what I thought were metallic shavings were in the bottom of the envelope. They looked like the shavings that come in the cartoon figure Wooly Willy who you can, with a magnet, draw hair and beard styles. I was completely at a loss to figure out what he might mean by sending me this until I read the short letter telling me he was coming home and when to expect him. He had grown a goatee which he knew I hated and his homecoming present to me was the goatee. I’ve never had a better present.
There’s a second gift that is memorable for being totally surprising. My brother’s mother-in-law once asked me to come to her house because she had a present for me. I was askance, Geri was unpredictable to put it mildly. When I got to her house she led me into the backyard and there was my present- a large grey gander who she had named Leander in my honor. I am a person who has a hard time saying “no” but on this occasion the word came out effortlessly and emphatically.
What is a gift you’ve received that has made you sad or angry? My brother and I were close when we were young adults. He knew I loved Christmas and had stashed $50 for a big, beautiful fresh Christmas tree. He asked, in a way that I discerned did not pertain to a literal Christmas tree, if he could have the money I was saving for Christmas tree. Indeed, he meant a bag of marijuana. I gave him the money. Sharing Christmas -surwith him in a beautiful way had been important to me and I saw my naïve little wishes of the simple joys of decorating a tree, listening to Christmas carols and eating homemade cookies might be a pleasure he had outgrown. If he wasn’t going to enjoy it and was sulking that I hadn’t given him my money I didn’t see much point in getting the tree I had wanted.
Late on Christmas eve, he surprised me with a huge tree, but I have always suspected he stole it.
Have you ever given a gift that was received in a way that disappointed you? One year I made a Christmas Book. It was about 200 pages and filled with stories, poems, recipes, crafts, gift ideas, carols… It was a huge job and included many illustrations, carefully chosen. I did not make many copies. I gave one copy to Bruce’s mother thinking she would love it, especially since it included some stories about Bruce but she asked in a suspicious and displeased voice, “What is this?” and set it aside. I don’t think she ever even opened it.
Choose one of the gifts and write down all the details you can remember about the occasion of giving or receiving it, pushing for specific details. I think I probably already fleshed these memories out more than was intended by the assignment
If you were going to write a piece based on that memory or experience, what might a possible first sentence be? She held the envelope in her hand in expectant pleasure, noting it was lighter than usual, but curious about a strange sur sur-ing sound as the contents moved.