I have a friend whose mother has become famous in their family for her odd gift choices. If she happened to go grocery shopping on the same day she went Christmas shopping, some recipients were likely to get a bag of beautifully wrapped potatoes. Or, if the dog on a bag of Purina resembled a dog you had as a kid, it's Purina for you. Whether you have a dog now or not.
My spared-from-being-named friend isn't sure if her mom is genuinely losing her marbles or simply enjoying the freedoms that come with being viewed as eccentric.
"It's becoming a tradition for me and my brother and cousins to get together later to try and figure out what motivated Mom to choose certain gifts," said my friend. "Our Christmases wouldn't be anywhere near as memorable if Mom was a conventional type. The fun and closeness we're getting will long outlast what we'd have if she gave normal gifts."
A few years ago, my daughter and I were Christmas shopping when we came across a vase so bizarre she absolutely had to buy it for her stepdad, Geoff, as a joke. The vase was white and covered all the way around with smooth white faces, with the right eye of one face also serving as the left eye of the face beside it. Not only was it creepy (the eyes didn't have pupils), but it also seemed just a bit out of focus. When people saw it for the first time, they'd often squint to see if their vision was off kilter, since non-moving objects aren't normally blurry.
I suppose we should've taken into consideration the quirkiness of the person getting the gift, as well as the gift itself. Geoff loved the vase so much it's now displayed prominently in our living room. (Currently wearing a Santa hat and scarf.)
Much as my family and I love and appreciate strange gifts, I realize there are many who don't. Poorly chosen gifts can be awkward for both the recipient and the giver, so I can understand the appeal of gift cards and cash. Still, it seems that if it truly isn't the gift, but the thought that counts, then giving gift cards and cash would suggest very little thought was given.
I suppose if some creativity is employed in the way in which the gift card is packaged, it might be possible to give it a more personal touch. For instance, a gift card to Starbucks could be tucked inside a funny coffee mug. Cash toward a new washer and dryer could be wrapped in a box with laundry detergent and fabric softener.
A gift card to Kroger could be tucked neatly inside a bag of beautifully wrapped potatoes.
And a gift certificate from the shelter could come with a big bag of Purina attached.
Reach Karin Fuller at karinful...@gmail.com.