I’m terrible at choosing gifts. Some people (especially God, and my sister Laura) have a special knack for choosing gifts that are meaningful to the recipient while at the same time they reflect the relationship of the giver. When that happens, the exchange of a gift is a joyous event. My gift-giving, on the other hand, seems more often than not an awkward transaction, despite my delight in giving. For example, most people, most of the time, when they are receiving a gift from me, get a book. Or sometimes several books. That fact alone epitomizes my relative inability to get beyond myself to give a gift whose nature reflects the recipient more than myself.
The most telling example took place one year when I was rather too old for it to be excusable, but I gave my Mother a huge, warehouse-sized case of toilet paper. In my defense, it might be noted that this was long before Sam’s or Aldi’s made the acquisition of such a treasure a rather common occurrence. But even with that noted, there’s little to be said in my defense. At the time, I naively thought it would lift a burden off her shoulders. In my mind I was thinking that shopping for all that toilet paper must be a heavy chore, and I could get it out of the way for her at the start of the new year. Yet, once the deed was done, for some reason I did not experience as much joy in the giving of the gift as I had anticipated.
Last year, however, for the first time (and possibly the last), I did feel like I hit upon a gift that was possibly nearly as meaningful to others as it was to myself: genuine meteorite fragments. Meteorite fragments may be had from a variety of rock and mineral resellers. I purchased several dozen from Ikon Mining & Exploration Company. On her blog, Laura described how my nieces and nephews received their meteorites. Click the image below to view a 3-minute video:
As she mentions in her post, the meteorite specimens were accompanied by a set of reflections. At Christmas we celebrate the Divine Meteorite, God come down from heaven to earth. And each of us, also, is an extraordinary, heaven-sent meteorite, no matter how ordinary we may feel. You are a meteorite. Here’s the booklet (click to download pdf):
Be forewarned: Unfortunately, this year I don’t think I can top the meteorite. That was my one good gift idea to last my lifetime, a bolt from the blue. Lightning doesn’t strike twice. I’m back to my own resources now, so this year expect books or toilet paper.
Update: For Christmas 2010, our gift to nephews and nieces was copal, a hardened form of resin that, over time, becomes amber. Here’s the pdf description of copal (2.6 MB) that we distributed with the gift, which considers several analogies between copal/amber and the young people receiving the gift (made in time, unique as Madagascar, idiosyncratic inclusions, a pleasant aroma, electrifying and light-bearing, and to be handled gently with great care).