One christmas, soon after I had my first job, I bought my mom a foot bath/massager and signed it from Santa. It’s one of the few times I remember my mom seeming genuinely surprised and pleased, as she tried to determine just who had given her the gift.
Both my father and sister are extremely difficult to buy gifts for–dad “doesn’t need anything”, and my sister is very particular about details (pyrex dishes, but the ones with the blue lids, not the red lids as they have worse reviews and/or contain certain chemicals–I understand this, but it does make shopping more of a challenge). A few years back I bought my family each a pay-as-you-go cell phone. Dad eschewed it, saying he didn’t have use for such a thing. It sat in it’s box for nearly five months. Then he finally figured he may as well use it as he had it. He and his cell phone are now rarely apart.
A fountain pen was my favourite gift received, but that was a birthday present. As for Christmas, the packages of little bits of this-and-that (manicure sets, soap, mirror, dolls, hand knitted slippers & gloves…) assembled by grandma Painter were always exciting to open. Even what she put them in was interesting, perhaps the most memorable being a little log cabin whose roof lifted up to reveal it’s contents. I still have that little log cabin, my sister still has hers, and a cousin had hers until very recently, more than 30 years later.
A couple of other gifts seemed odd to me at the time. I was a young teen when the Cabbage Patch Doll frenzy hit in 1982/3. Grandma and grandpa Akeson got me and my much younger sister and cousins each a doll. I felt much too old to be getting such a gift, but I did appreciate the story that went with my particular doll. You may recall the frenzy the dolls created that first year of mass marketing. Well, Grandpa had managed to grab the last bald-headed doll but had to fight for it, and that’s the doll I got, Clement Gideon. When I was 16, mom bought my sister and me a nice new-release hardcover book, but a kids book really. While the story was sweet, again I felt too old for such a gift. It was called The Polar Express. I have recently discovered that those books are first editions and now worth a fair bit of money. But I’m not parting with mine for anything!
There are so many memorable gifts, I could go on and on. Every year there seems to be at least one gift that wasn’t on my list, takes me completely by surprise and causes sheer delight. I am one lucky woman.