No place for practical on my gift list

Published 7:00 pm Saturday, December 24, 2011

My name is Matt, and I’m a hard giftee.

    After my aunt died a few years ago, I believe I inherited the titleof “Hardest Person To Buy A Present For” in my family. Therefore, Iconsider myself a hard giftee.

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    I know I’m not alone. Perhaps we could start some kind of Anonymousgroup.

    Group members’ characteristics would include avoiding answeringquestions like, “What do you want for (insert special occasionhere, typically Christmas or a birthday)?”

    For my late October birthday, my family members start askingaround, oh, the Fourth of July. Not really, but they do try to giveme enough time to answer and themselves enough time to search.

    Thanksgiving dinner comes with a last-minute request for items onmy Christmas list.

    My standard reply is something along the lines of giving me time toFacebook or e-mail a requested list. I do genuinely think aboutdoing it – and I even call myself looking for things they could getme – but somehow the list hardly ever gets sent.

    The biggest reason for this would be another characteristic ofgroup members. If we see something we want, we get itourselves.

    For me, personally, many of the things I’m interested in have to bebought when found. Otherwise, the opportunity is missed.

    Many of you may know that I’m a sports card collector – part of adying breed, at least locally.

    There’s no way I can tell a family member that I want anautographed card of player so-and-so.

    One, there are likely multiple versions – some of which I would notlike – and two, specific cards are almost only found at a sportscard show – another dying breed and a place my family members donot go. And eBay might as well be a foreign language as far assearch help.

    This buy-it-myself characteristic is coupled with the fact that Iam averse to getting or giving anything practical as a Christmaspresent.

    Of course, I am appreciative of any gift I receive, just some morethan others. And from my giving standpoint, the only exception Imake is if the item is specifically requested.

    Furthermore, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve shifted my focus toward thegiving than the getting aspect of special occasions. AtChristmastime, that’s especially the way it should be.

    Still, I apply my getting philosophy to my giving habits.

    Gifts that come from the heart, or have some special thought behindthem, often mean far more to me than the most extravagant ofpresents.

    Mind you, it’s not that I don’t admire the nice new shirt, and willcertainly get use out of it. But I really like the shield keychainbecause the giver knows I have an affinity for Captain Americaitems.

    Let me jump to the other end of the present spectrum for a moment:the gift card.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving gift cards. Heck,I’ll even be giving out several of them myself this year.

    But if the old cliché of “It’s the thought that counts” is true,how much thought is there really behind a gift card – particularlyone to the mega-department store or the big-box retailer down theroad? At least get a gift card to the recipient’s favoriterestaurant or to the small business or niche retailer he or shefrequents.

    I hope I’m not sounding snobbish when it comes to gifting.

    To me, Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions should befun, festive and filled with good spirits. Gifts that are practicalor boring have no place there.

     Finally, as we lookforward to celebrating Christmas this Sunday, let me say thegreatest gift any of us can receive was delivered long ago in amanger in Bethlehem. Let’s keep that thought foremost in our mindsas we unwrap our gifts and celebrate in the spirit of that trulyspecial occasion.

    That’s all for now. Merry Christmas!

    Write to Managing Editor Matthew Coleman at P.O. Box 551,Brookhaven MS 39602, or send e-mail