28 December, 2010  |   4 Comments

Christmas present

granola-frontI’m a terrible gift giver. Despite all my enthusiasm for celebrating, gift-giving is a skill I’m still working to develop. Giving tangible items to show people that I care about them on time for an event is a language I simply don’t speak.

I am uncomfortable opening gifts in front of other people, I tend to buy items for people that they either already have or that I want and it’s usually just, wrong.

This year, however, I was inspired. Get in the habit of grand loving gestures. It’s on Maggie’s life list, and it’s a great phrase to keep in the back of my head.

I stared my gift handicap in the eye and worked it like any other personality defect. (With stone cold foxiness, natch.)

Planning for Christmas started in January. I developed a budget for each person I had to purchase a gift for and a plan of attack — if I saw something for them at any time during the year, I would but it and put it in my secret office closet (time to find a new hiding place, eh?).

Swag present!

I kept the document in Google Docs and revisited it about once a month, adding, subtracting and making lists of items I’d heard people mention that they wanted.

And for the most part, I’ve bought or made gifts I am proud of.


Especially for James.
Because this year I bought him a cello.

Yay! Presents!

He’d been talking about wanting to learn the cello since hearing it used on Lost. I started saving in June. Twenty or thirty dollars a week went into the secret account.

It wasn’t enough that he would notice but enough to get me to a solid total by Christmas. In October I started the finding process, interviewing friends who played stringed instruments, researching music stores, prices and reviewing all the cellos for sale from here to Portland.

Finding a cello teacher who wanted some extra holiday cash was my howdy moment. I picked it up two weeks before and hid it in my next door neighbor’s guest bedroom.

On December 25th, I surprised my beloved with a cello under the tree.

Oh! So impractical! When does James have time to sleep, much less practice a cello?
Oh! So large and requiring of care!
Oh! So precarious and precious!

Oh! What a gift.

On Christmas morning, James made his way down with two little girls at 5:20am. He was confused about the cello — a lot in shock — but as he played it all day, more and more excited.

See, a few days before, we’d gone out to eat on our customary date night. During dinner I’d asked James what goals he was working on for 2011. His answer? “I just really want to make some progress on learning to play the cello.” He went on to talk about how it probably wouldn’t happen for a few years with life at its current demands.

Offering some general advice to “go for your dream,” I just tried really hard not to let my eyes bug.

Part of his gift included time to practice.
At least 30 minutes a day.
I can’t wait to hear what happens.


4 thoughts on “Christmas present

  1. 1

    That is so so so lovely.

    I have to say, Bryan is MUCH more thoughtful about gifts than I am. I should work on this for 2011 too.

  2. 2
    Carla S says:

    I’m a terrible gift receiver- I can’t hide when I don’t like a gift and often don’t like opening gifts in front of people either for that reason. I don’t really like getting gifts unless they are consumable or from someone who REALLY knows me. Don’t like buying gifts out of family obligation either. We have to buy for Ken’s extended family who we see once a year and it’s hard to buy for people you don’t know or really see. Ugh. I’m with you on that.

    I bought Abby that drum set AND the Meowsic Keyboard in the last year. I think I use them more than she does!

  3. 3
    CDG says:


    That’s my dream instrument.

    What a brilliant, inspired, thoughtful gift.

    So glad Nichole sent me here!

  4. 4
    Charlie says:

    James – Nice fingering in first position on the cello!!!

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