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It’s the thought that counts

Posted by Dirck on 30 December, 2009

I reverse from my notion of yesterday– the mails may be slower than I think, and I don’t want any surprises undone before they’re sprung.

My wife and I gave what I consider a lamentable pile of gift cards this year (which in our case was an item made of paper, with the words “GIFT CARD” printed on the outside, and stuffed with small bills; the store-bought type tend to have service fees and whatnot that cause them to evaporate if not used promptly). I lament because I like to give the right gift for Christmas/Birthday/Waitangi Day*, the one that says to the receiver that some serious thought went into it. This year was a bit of a bust in that regard because our son’s current activities tend to defeat rational thought, and because some of our various loved ones will not even in the face of desperate entreaties give any useful hints.

On the other hand, we offer lists, with specific items and broad categories of welcome things (“More Sleep” is apparently very hard to package). As a result, and with the added effect of very low expectations (Hoodoo McFiggins should be revelling in his collars!), we are very content each Christmas.

“I’ll bet,” I can hear my purported readers saying, “you got a pen.”

Wrong. And I’m happy for it.

Why? Because it is a great mistake to get something for someone who is interested in that thing. You’re apt to do it wrong. If someone likes, or I should say, is KNOWN to like “Precious Moments” figurines, it seems an obvious thing to go and get them one… until you ponder the multiplicity of the little brutes, and the high likelihood of the recipient already having the one you’re about to buy for them. With an esoteric pursuit, of which pens is only a moderately obscure example, the problems compound. Is this one of the sort of thing they actually like? Are they specific as to colour? Does it matter if the thing is still functional? How can I tell if it is still functional? Even if it’s on the wish list– am I certain the shop clerk knows what a Jemkins butter-thruster with reciprocating whey-gate is, or is he just acting wise to make a sale?

I have a few friends who I’ve briefed on fountain pens, who are very active in looking into unexpected places. One has turned up a couple of startling objects, and in each case has given the loot as a free and delightful gift. Most of my circle, however, have had the sense not to attend when I start frothing at the mouth and rambling about the difference between lever and hatchet fillers. They don’t buy me a pen as a gift. I don’t, except where an inclination (usually towards writing rather than stylophilia) beckons, give them very often. We all remain content.

Today’s pen, a delight to me alone: Lamy 99
Today’s ink, a mystery but to a select few: Herbin’s Vert Empire

*I realize that Waitangi Day is not particularly festive, but to us contra-antipodeal types it has a delightful sound. The last thing I want is to engender Maori wrath.

One Response to “It’s the thought that counts”

  1. […] mentioned in a previous installment that I am generally content that my friends steer clear of giving me pens, for the same reason that […]

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