The joy of raising a kid in the public schools (here in Theme Park Land, at least) is the PTA’s annual “Gift Shop” at the elementary school. They would raid an “Everything for a Buck” sort of supplier of trinkets and put them out in a market. The kids would bring home an envelope, on which the responsible adult of the house was to write the names of people to buy for and into which we were to tuck an appropriate amount of cash. There’s an educational component here, and some life skills, as the kids were expected to create a budget based on the amount of cash, the number of people on their list and the cost of said trinkets.
Oh the gifts our sweet child would bring home. It was an interesting insight into a developing personality. I was always curious who would end up with a gift that I had left off the list. And given the quality of merchandise available in the little market, it was interesting to see what was determined to be the right gift for each person.
From middle school onward, the process was a little different. We would provide an slightly larger gift allowance (to supplement the usual weekly income) and offer a couple of rides to stores to get gifts. It’s tricky, of course, trying to keep the gifts secret when you need a ride everywhere. This year, the kid’s shopping happened while we were at a wedding. A friend with a car and some good ideas for stores did the transporting.
This year, the gifts were books. Not just any books, but meaningful ones.
I got a first edition (!!) Bleak House by Dickens. Because we both love all things British, and find Dickens’ writing style delicious.
Mom got a new version of Alice in Wonderland (Alice in Tumblrland). Because back when visiting Yaya required spending the night at her house in Texas, they would read her old copy of Alice and Through the Looking Glass before bed.
The hubs got a book about motorcycles – Harleys and Indians. Because they enjoy going for rides together and Grandpa V actually owned an Indian back when hubs was a kid.
Having spent time thinking and choosing just the right gifts for us this year, it was clear that opening gifts was different, too. A realization that it’s not how many boxes you get to open, but the thought put into what would bring you joy when the paper is ripped away and the surprise is revealed.
Seeing our young adult make that shift might have been the best gift of the season.