If you buy a coffee for me, I will talk with you as I drink it. If you buy a pound of coffee for me, I will think about you every time I drink that coffee. If I have to grind it, I will think about you while I grind it and then while I drink it. If you buy tea for me, I will think about you when I take the bag out of the storage container. And if there are 250 bag in the box you send, then there will be a lot of reminders. If you buy me a coffee maker, you will cross my mind several times a day. I will think of your generosity and the reminder that you were listening when we talked about having an ineffective one. If you buy a mug for me, when I look for a mug in the cupboard, I will choose that mug as a reminder of you. And I will do that several times a day.
Coffee and tea and coffeemakers and mugs are mundane. They are almost commodities, though some brands will work very hard to make us think that they are special. For me, however, they are elements of my daily life. And gifts that reflect a knowledge of me at that level matter to me.
In fact, those kinds of gifts matter more than engraved plaques. The latter reflects the ability of an industry to train us in believing that our name on a piece of wood reflects significance. A gift of coffee tells me that you know me.
Of course, it could be a gift card for a restaurant you know that Nancy likes, because then you give me the gift of conversation with my wife. It could be a package of the razors I use because I use each one for a week and a package of ten will mean that for almost three months every morning you might be at the top of my mind.
After I’ve had my coffee, of course.
I’m not looking for coffee or razors, by the way. (Though I did forget mine in a hotel in Detroit, the one I’ve had for 20 years). What I am offering is a suggestion for Christmas. For the next two months, watch what the people you love do every day. Look for the things that are part of what they really need. And then, when you make your gift list, you may end up in the grocery store rather than “Things Remembered.”
But they might actually think of you every day in the New Year. And smile.
(Gift stories courtesy of Becky, Chris, Chris, Rob, Kat, Megin, Hope, Nancy, Diane, Sue (Timmy’s!), Paul and Lisa, my mother (for teaching me the social value of coffee), and countless other friends in our cupboard and on the filing cabinet).