It is wonderful to give presents to children. You generally know from their parents what they are longing for – and there is such delight when they receive the gift. No problem there.
Once in a while, I realise I am looking at something in a market or shop that someone I know would really like to have and there is again great pleasure in buying it for them. They would treasure it; it would be a surprise. There will be happiness all around.
Nowadays, my family – and I suspect many others – all have an Amazon wish list telling me exactly what presents they would like to receive – which book, which pair of slippers, which annual calendar.
Buying these is rather like doing your weekly grocery shopping. Check the list, buy, wait for the post. No artistry in this. No surprise when the package is opened.
The one benefit is, the person will welcome the addition to their wardrobe or library or whatever and won’t feel the need to send it back.
I never much liked getting presents either. As a child, there might have been a longed-for item – a special doll or a pretty dress – and when I happened to receive it, there was a moment of real pleasure.
But most of the time, I would receive the wrong thing. My grandmother had good intentions, of course, but was not very good at working out which age was appropriate for which toy. My parents, somewhat surprisingly, were not much better either.
Even when I was a fully grown adult, my mother could not resist buying some dress that she thought would ‘look cute’ on me, which was never to my taste.
Aversion to Waste
I have always known – but it grows stronger as I get older – that I have a strong aversion to waste in all its forms. The wrong present is a complete waste – a waste of money, a waste of someone’s time acquiring it and a waste of any effort I make to wear it or read it or use it however it was intended.
It’s a waste and an embarrassment. I say thank-you, of course, but it all makes me very uncomfortable.
So this brings me to the surprise. A few weeks ago, it was a grey afternoon and I was quietly working on my computer when the doorbell rang. We weren’t expecting anyone, so I surmised it was probably one of the charity workers who would come along at Christmas time. I let my husband handle it.
A moment later, he shouted up to me that we had a large parcel. I knew we hadn’t ordered anything, so I rushed down, hoping I could catch the delivery man before he disappeared. Too late for that. My immediate thought was that it was going to be a nuisance to get this thing taken back.
But the parcel had my name on it, so I began to investigate. Inside was a large basket. After removing coloured ribbons and layers of see-through plastic, I realised it was some kind of hamper full of fruit, a variety of chocolates and sparkling wine. What a nice thought on someone’s part, even if it was surely not intended for me.
Oh, and there was a note! I was shocked that it was actually addressed to me, from my lovely neighbours who were temporarily away, thanking me for looking after their house. It was for me, after all. A complete surprise on a grey day. A present I liked. Not a waste at all.
This post was originally published on sixtyandme.com (http://sixtyandme.com/i-hated-giving-and-receiving-gifts-until-i-got-this-surprise/) and should not be re-blogged