Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tender Gifts

I try to give gifts that have intimate meaning to the receiver whenever I can.  I fall short sometimes and other times, I think I score.  Some of the "best" gifts are not in a shop at all - precious presents can sometimes be objects in the house that have lost their luster but may turn out to give joyful  pleasure to someone else.  This Christmas, I plan on gifting a friend an object I no longer "see" but is something I think will delight her.  I'll let you know how that goes.  

My sister has had a lifelong fascination with the moon.  I remembered her lunar love when I saw a leaded crystal vase at an antique shop recently.  On the front, an ethereal lass in a flowing white gown, is etched finely on the glass but I couldn't help noticing that she sits slightly off-center.  I didn't reject the vase because of this quirk because the upper left back of the vase has a charming sliver of a moon and a smattering of white stars. Only after I stared at it atop an old dresser, did I realize that the lady is not centered because she was carved to appear as though she were gazing up at the back of the vase, where the moon and constellation hangs.  Suddenly I knew this work of art belonged in my sister's home and so it became a birthday present to her with along with a bouquet of coral roses.  I think she likes it and I hope my gift conveyed that I see her tender heart.

I have been the recipient of some wonderful gifts that touchingly hit my bulls eye.  I especially remember a pair of shoes a boyfriend gave me on my seventeenth birthday.  He often played "Houdini", as my grandmother called it, when he would disappear and not call for days.  It was agonizing at the time but blessedly, our tumultuous sweep-me-off-my-feet relationship was short-lived.  He knew he wasn't good for me and looking back, I think he just couldn't help it.  But my ardent heart would always take him back even under my grandmother's disapproving eyes.

The object of my affection and I were window shopping one night when I spotted a striking pair of peacock blue velvet shoes.  They had just the right amount of Seventeen magazine bohemian romance that I adored and spoke to the hidden place inside where the girl I wanted to be resided. They were dainty and pretty and instead of a strap they were tied with small silk ribbons, each with a dangling charm - a silver dove on one and a gold heart on the other.  They were charming.  And expensive.  

A few days before my birthday, my boyfriend staged his disappearing act again and I was bereft. When he finally resurfaced, just in time for cake and ice cream, he had an unwrapped box with him. Inside were the velvety shoes clearly bought on the fly. My mother and grandmother thought shoes were an absurd gift for a teenage girl but I knew what they meant.  He saw the dreamy bohemian girl I was inside too and although he didn't stick around to see the shoes on my feet, they became a souvenir of our time together.  They were a risky but tender gift.  Our last parting was tender too...a tender mercy.

It has been said that the scent of the rose remains on the hands of the giver and I believe that.  If someone has been thoughtful enough to choose something they believed would touch my soul, I am grateful for their love.  I enjoy giving my family and friends small luxuries I know they won't buy for themselves and if my presents offer them comfort and a little bit of joy, I am happy.  It doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate...just something that says I tried a little tenderness.


  1. A friend recently moved away to be near her daughter, the three-hour distance became too great when you're at a certain age.
    I was in a charming home shop one day where I found a clip magnet that featured a tiny vintage watercolor of a bird. $3. The price didn't matter. I could picture it on her refrigerator clipping a dish towel or filing cabinet in her office with notes and I knew it was the perfect housewarming gift for her.

  2. I've been reading your blog for awhile now, and just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy it. Each of your essays is so well-considered and evocative. They are a true pleasure to read. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Christie

  3. Gail, that is the kind of gift I am talking about! And Christine, I am touched by your comment so much. Thank you for telling me so.

  4. What a perfectly lovely way to express the true spirit of gift-giving!! Love this so much! Your recipients are blessed, as I have so often been by your thoughtful gifties! XO, K

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