Thursday, July 5, 2007

Thinking Of You. Really, I Am!

I am often made to feel guilty because of all the December birthdays that occur in my family. (The girls weren't due until January: it really isn't my fault) However, those of you born in July far outnumber us December babies, though December babies are still best. As I began looking at the calendar for this month, I realized that I have to buy birthday gifts for nine people. They range from my dad and my husband to my best friends, adopted family members and friends of the girls. It is almost like Christmas in July - without the crowds and the terrible arrangements of holiday music being piped through all of the stores. This should make shopping tolerable.

To me, birthday shopping is fun. I believe that it is an opportunity to really think about the person whose life you are celebrating. The gift you give them should reflect how you feel about them and the relationship that you share. I had already done some shopping as I have come across things that remind me of someone, but today was the day set aside to do the bulk of it. Several gifts have to be mailed so it is in my best interest not to wait until the last minute.

Over time I have developed a strong dislike for chain stores. So, this morning we set out for some of the locally owned businesses in town. Shopping at these places means that the only thing that can be on your shopping list is serendipity. These stores never have the same thing from one visit to the next. I go hoping that I can find "just the right thing.", but not having the slightest idea what that might be In most cases today, I was not disappointed. I found several great gifts that reflect my relationship with each person. The places where I came up empty handed are the instances where I was looking for something very specific. I am sure that I became so intent on finding what I was looking for that I overlooked something that would have been equally as appropriate or possibly even better. I guess I will have to undertake the chance approach next time.

The one thing I do not want to do is resort to gift cards. I know that they are always appreciated, but gift cards seem so impersonal unless you know what someone wants and buying the actual item is not possible for some reason. On general principle, however, gift cards seem like a cop out. They say, "I did not want to expend the energy to think about and shop for an appropriate gift for you so you do it yourself." On the contrary, for teenagers who are attempting to build their independence, shopping with a gift card is a means to facilitating an understanding of the concept of just how far a dollar does not go. For them too, the shopping is part of the fun. But, is this also true for adults?

Let's face it, most of us don't really need anything in terms of material things. What we do need is to know that someone cares about us. This gets back to my belief that a birthday gift should be something that lets the birthday person know that I care about them. Often, this can be accomplished with something very simple - a book, a silly toy, a meal or a cup of coffee together, something handmade. The possibilities really are endless.

I hope that all those to whom I give birthday gifts this month will sense that I do care about you and cherish the relationship that we have. I promise not to give any of you a toupee or Relationships for Dummies. Aside for these things, anything is fair game. Beware!