This time of year, we see so many “gift guides” filled with ideas for that special friend, boss and mother-in-law on our list. It got me wondering, do we (robin b) need to add our version of the perfect gift for that unique girl on your list? Let’s face it, some of the guides I have seen are amazing! I have gotten some great gift ideas from a few of them (yes, we check out our competition). What could I possibly add? Will we really stand out in the crowd? (hard to compete with Oprah!)
This is the funny thing about growing a brand. You are supposed to do what’s expected. Have that Black Friday sale, introduce a “gift guide” for the holidays, be on social media all the time (really? I have customers to help), have the perfect pictures on your social media feeds at all times (my life can be messy, not so organized and funny…I want to share the funny stuff) that we get caught up in creating the perfect scenario, that perfect picture with the right lighting (I could go on and on – but I won’t). I follow most of these rules every day. How else do we get noticed?
So, after thinking about this for weeks, you guessed it, I thought I would take a different approach to the “holiday gift guide”. How about sharing our most cherished gifts from holidays past? (sounds like a Lifetime holiday movie, huh?) With gift giving in mind, I reached out to a few of friends and colleagues and asked the question: Can you share with me one of your favorite gifts from the past and why it was so special?
Here is what I discovered, it is all about the person who gives you the gift. That person has touched your life and when you think about, wear or see that gift you are reminded of that person, how important they are to you and the memory continues to bring joy. Below are a few of the stories that were shared.
The Memory Still Makes You Smile
Being 20-something and living in NYC is a challenge especially on a tight budget. Thinking about buying gifts, decorating for the holidays and all that comes with big city living can be stressful. Our local stylist, Jill, remembers those times well. With Jill’s birthday being in December, it was a friend who showed up at her apartment with a Christmas Tree as her birthday gift. It is something, 20 years later, she remembers fondly.
What I really love about this story is Jill just stopped in the store to do a bit of shopping. I caught her as she was texting her friend about this memory. She had a huge smile on her face! It was that smile that really expressed how much that gift meant the to her.
As a kid, most of us loved our stuffed animals. I still have a few of my favorites in a box tucked away. When I asked Beth, (my friend who left her corporate life to become a Trek Travel guide – so cool!), to share her favorite gift and why, I got a wonderful story about Henry. Here is my abbreviated version of her story.
As a child, Beth and her sister Amy had about 40-50 stuffed animals, most of them the size that you set on your dresser, place on your toy box or snuggle with in bed. One Christmas, when Beth was 7-years-old, her grandparents came to visit the family for the holidays and she found Henry.
As all good grandparents do, they took Beth and Amy shopping for ideas to put under the tree. While Amy focused on Barbie, Beth found (and fixated) on Henry - a giant stuffed dog! Four feet tall, big black eyes and fur so soft Beth imagined using his belly as a pillow. Of course, Henry was a bit more expensive than anticipated and everyone tried to talk Beth into another gift.
Since I know Beth so well, I will say, I wasn’t surprised to hear that she had every reason that Henry would be the perfect gift. Even when presented with another discouraging thought about why Henry just wasn’t the right gift, Beth was making her plea for Henry.
Fast forward to Christmas day, you guessed it, no giant Henry under the tree. No giant box. I could imagine Beth as a 7-year-old being very discouraged. Then off to the side, so cleverly disguised, was Henry in a smaller box waiting for his new friend! Beth described how excited she was when she found the box, she hugged Henry, flopped on the ground and cuddled with him, laying her head on his big belly! Of course, Beth’s grandparents were thrilled they had surprised her. Of course, Beth gave them both the biggest hugs ever.
To my surprise, I learned that all these years later (I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone how old Beth is – but she is over 35) Henry is tucked away safely in a closet, staying warm and comfortable, just as a best friend deserves. The best part of this story, Beth is reminded how special her grandparents were and she never took that for granted.
Gifts with Meaning
My last story (I promise) is from my friend Kathleen. Kathleen has a very busy, cosmopolitan life, she has traveled all over the world (numerous times) has seen and experienced so many things, has had a great career over the years and now is a VP of human resources for a tech company. I was touched to hear that one of her favorite gifts came from me. A silver and crystal necklace that is handmade in Massachusetts that relieves stress to those who wear it. I was thrilled to hear that Kathleen wears this necklace at least once a week and every time she wears it, she is reminded me and our long friendship.
I can’t begin to share how great it was to hear that something like this necklace (which wasn’t super expensive) brings such great joy.
What Does This All Mean
All of these memories are the ones that shape us, leave us feeling loved and most of all, connect us. So, this year, as you are going through your list looking for the perfect gift, remember gifts are about spreading joy! This joy stays with us, in the good times and the hard times, we can dig for this memory and know it will make us smile, feel grateful, or just remind us we are loved.
One last thought, I received some amazing stories. I wish I could have included them all. To those who sent me their stories, thank you, I loved all of them.
Wishing you and yours a very Happy Holiday!