Written By: Leslie Means
Two months after my first child was born, I was a frazzled mess and rightfully so. It’s a tough transition for any parent to learn about this new role. Add a colicky baby to the mix and, in my humble opinion, it’s even worse.
Such was the case after my first daughter, Ella was born. It had only been 6 weeks and I was lacking sleep and mental awareness. I could hardly keep up with my own personal hygiene – let alone buy a 40th birthday gift for my sister.
Oh, I had planned to buy her something; anything. But the thought of taking my colicky baby to the store and attempting to remove the sweatpants from my body – which had pretty much taken up permanent residency – was enough to make me shudder.
Alas, I didn’t go to the store. I didn’t hop on the computer to buy her anything, either. Instead I wrote her a check for $40.00 – which, in my mind, was a decent amount of money for this monumental birthday.
I was wrong.
She didn’t just hate the check, she loathed the check. When I handed it to her she was ticked. It wasn’t the dollar amount she was upset about. She wanted something a bit more personal than a piece of paper that had my name, address and small amount of money written on it. And she let me know about it. At the time I was furious at her reaction. After all, isn’t a gift a gift? If someone gives you something – even if you hate it – you still politely smile and say thank you, right?
4 years ago when my sister told me she wanted something more personal than a check I understood what she meant, but didn’t take it to heart.
I do now.
Last night once the house was quiet and I was left with my thoughts, I began to make a mental list of all the Christmas gifts I will have to buy this year. As usual, I wait up to the last minute to make my purchases which leaves me stressed and unhappy to spend money. Each time I find myself getting frustrated by my holiday gift list, I think of the check disaster and the lessons it taught me.
“What does this person really want?” I think to myself. “What will actually mean something to them?’ “What gifts have I been given that mean the most to me?”
Usually it’s a small item, something with little monetary value that means the most.
Like the full sized Snickers candy bar and hand written note my parent’s housecleaner gave me on my 10th birthday.
Or the handmade Nativity scene my father built for me one Christmas.
Or the locket my husband surprised me with just before our wedding day.
Or the card I received in the mail from my sister, Lindsay that brightened my day – just when I needed it.
These and countless other gifts I have been given throughout my years mean more than any big ticket item ever could. These gifts made lasting memories.
This holiday season when you are trying to find that last minute gift for your toughest critic, remember to make it memorable. And trust me when I say – leave your checkbook at home.
Read more from Leslie at the Kearney Hub.