The Art of Giving


I envy people who master the art of gifting. I don’t know if they take an inordinate amount of time thinking about finding the right present for someone or if they just nonchalantly pull together the perfect surprise out of serendipity.  Either way, I absolutely do not have this talent (and I tend to cop out by sending gift cards or just asking for a wish list) so I make up for the shortcoming by being the easiest person on Earth to gift. Just kidding. I’m a tough audience.

The value I place on presents I’m given is a sentimental one, based on the thought and back story behind the gift–much more so than say, a monetary value of an expensive trinket picked out of a store at the last second. Though…men, take notes. No matter how much we protest, we all love trinkets as much as you love electronics. It’s okkkayy if you saw those earrings as you were leaving the store.

A close friend of my family just came back from visiting her family in Guatemala and this morning I received a package from her. It is an emerald green bead carved out of a jade found in the Motagua Valley and symbolic of life and love by the Mayan culture. She and I both dabble in jewelry making so she knows I will be able to incorporate the bead into one of my designs. That alone makes the present thoughtful.


The bead came wrapped inside a small zipped pouch embroidered in the pattern and colors of a specific village. The robust history of the textiles in Guatemala is reminiscent of what I saw in Sapa half a world away. In both cultures this is a dying art form. We had discussed shopping at the local markets for traditional textiles before and she remembered that I would love it. So that’s even more brownie points on the scale of thoughtfulness.

Finally, she included a handwritten note. On the front of the card is a drawing by an 11-year-old patient at Baylor Hospital in Dallas. It is a sketch of Fusion Island, which she thought I would enjoy due to my travels.  So that’s 3 for 3. In this day of texting and other shorthand communications, it’s a rarity to get cards or letters that actually have complete sentences. And thoughts. It’s a real treat to know that someone actually took the time to write more than TY or TTYL or some other alphabet dialog we’ve all learned to settle for.

I hope she’s not embarrassed by today’s blog entry. It was just such a deft lesson in the art of gifting that I had to write about it. Giving a great present means paying attention to your recipient’s life. Because when you nail the gift, the person on the receiving end feels like you were truly present when you spent time talking together. And that kind of validation is the best gift of all.



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