The meaningful gifts

It’s mid-January, which means my daughter has pretty much moved on from any gifts she got at Christmas.

The new coloring books are half used. The slippers are somewhere in her room. God only knows where her purple pony is.

And the damn flying fairy is broken. Irrevocably busted.

The only saving grace is the Light Brite that hasn’t left the box yet. Yes, I guess the Light Brite has made a reappearance in the toy world.

My kiddo doesn’t seem to take notice when some of her toys disappear into the night. I’ve gotten her in the habit of trying to think of still-new toys she can give away to kids that maybe don’t have as much. She’s been largely supportive, and has even brought up that a particular new toy could go to another girl some time.

I did face a little of the 4-year-old wrath when I gave away her Lalaloopsy doll. She’s still bringing that up to me from time to time.

As kids, I know toys are king. When we rip into the wrapping paper on our birthdays or Christmas and find socks or a sweater awaiting, those are pretty quickly tossed aside, hoping the next box or bag will hold the promise of something we had seen on TV recently.

As an adult, a new softball glove or old Nintendo game might be nice, but the gifts that really resonate are the ones where, the second you open them, you say, “this person really gets me.”

A shirt you know you are going to love isn’t discarded at all as an adult. A pair of copper mugs to make your favorite drink in is met with a smile every time they are used. Or simply a box of pencils made from recycled newspaper. A gesture that not gives a nod to my newspaper past, but shows an understanding of what I might truly appreciate.

Of course, I don’t expect these things out of my daughter just yet. Gift giving to her will, I hope, for years to come be about something that she will open, scream with joy about, and play with. Even if for only 17 minutes or so. (The fairy didn’t last long).

And, perhaps, the really meaningful gifts come at a time when no gift is anticipated at all. I’ve noticed on Facebook some people committing to doing something for five friends throughout the course of the year. Each year I see a few more of my friends doing this. I’ve never asked if they follow through. I want to believe they will.

In a world that is quite mad and violent, I can believe in little gestures of kindness and compassion, whether that is in the form of gifts, words, a gentle touch, shoulder to cry on or in simply being there for our loved ones.

I hope to provide all of that to my friends, family and loved ones.

And if it happens to come with a little something wrapped up with a bow on top, I hope that I, too, can always find that most meaningful gift to them.

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