My editor’s husband loves baseball. So when he turned 40, she asked all his friends and relatives to give him a baseball card.
Not just any baseball card. A baseball card with a meaning.
It might be the card of someone who played in a game they both attended, or perhaps the card of a player associated with a city or university that was significant to him or to the giver. One friend, who’d played major-league ball, sent his own card.
She asked each person to mail the baseball card to her and to include a note explaining its significance. All the cards and notes were compiled into an album, which she presented to him on his birthday. It’s a keepsake that chronicles the relationships in his life and the ways they intersect with one of his biggest interests.
It was, I thought, a brilliant gift.
All gifts are considerate, of course, but some just rise above the rest. They’re more meaningful, more personal or simply more thoughtful than the usual neckties and gift cards.
Take, for example, the CD my friend and her siblings created recently for their mother’s 80th birthday. Using the online site LifeOnRecord.com, they asked friends to call a toll-free number and recount memories of their mom, which were all then compiled onto an audio disc. I haven’t heard how the gift went over, but I can only imagine she was thrilled.
I’ve been lucky enough to receive some pretty brilliant gifts myself. I was moved to tears one Christmas when my husband gave me a book on the history of the metropolitan park where I’d spent much of my childhood — a book that, in the days before Amazon, probably took some effort to track down. He hit it big another year with a gift certificate for a hot-air balloon ride for two, a bucket-list experience he knew I’d never buy for myself.
I fondly remember the bag of treats, word puzzles and other goodies a friend put together for a road trip I was planning, and the book of handwritten recipes she gave me for my bridal shower. (That same friend also gave my husband and me an assortment of Christmas ornaments for a wedding present, which I thought was inspired. Come to think of it, I should have asked her to write this column.)
I’ve given what I think are some pretty good gifts, too. Among them were a meaningful poem I had reproduced in calligraphy for my mom, the picture of a favorite place I gave my dad, the locket filled with the great-grandchildren’s photos I gave my husband’s grandmother, the vintage postcards of my in-laws’ hometown that I found on eBay and had framed for them, and the barbecued ribs I had shipped on dry ice to my father-in-law from his favorite restaurant. Just last weekend, I gave a friend a subway art poster listing some of his attributes (“possessor of a green thumb, teller of corny jokes”), made using a poster-generating app at Homemade-Gifts-Made-Easy.com. (Look in the “shop” section if you want to make one.)
What about you? What are some of the brilliant gifts you’ve given or received?
I’d like to hear about them. I’ll publish the best in the Nov. 29 paper, in plenty of time for Christmas and Hanukkah gift-giving.
Send me an email at email@example.com, or send a note to Mary Beth Breckenridge, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640.
Be sure to include your full name, the town where you live and a phone number where I can reach you during the day, just in case I have questions. If you have photos, feel free to include them, but they’re not required.
Deadline is Nov. 14.
Get your brain in gear. Let’s make some people’s holidays really special this year.
Mary Beth Breckenridge can be reached at 330-996-3756 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MBBreckABJ, follow her on Twitter @MBBreckABJ and read her blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/mary-beth.