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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
NOV
17

On Christmas Lists

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My sister is a great gift-giver. The best I know. She almost never asks me for ideas, she just spends the year quietly collecting things that make her think of me, things she thinks I'll like, and then I open her Christmas gifts having absolutely no idea what to expect. These kinds of gifts are my favorite to open, and they are usually spot on. Which proves what is possible when you truly know someone.

Cases in point. She bought and restored an old writing desk I adore and have schlepped across the country twice and still use. She tracked down the album of songs that a well-known hospital clown sang at Oakland Children's when I was a patient there in the late 1980s. Songs that I listened to for years afterward on a tape I eventually lost track of. Silly I guess, the songs, but being reunited with them so many years later was one of the biggest and most thoughtful surprises I've ever received. One I didn't ask for but loved.

If I ever had a child and found myself doing the family thing, I'd be tempted to implement a no-list policy. Meaning no one would be allowed to ask for specific things; rather we'd all just shop for each other based on what we knew the others would like. It means more, right? It's better, right? Of course, it's also harder. Not to mention, not everyone can do what my sister does. I think she has a knack. A gifting skill set. Whereas I always seem to say--about my own siblings and parents--"What on this green earth can I *possibly* get them?" Which seems an odd thing, being unsure what to buy for, say, the woman out of whose womb you tumbled forth. Um, maybe a pedicure? Some chocolates? I just DON'T KNOW!

Just yesterday I sent off my Christmas list to my two brothers and my parents, and it reminded me that 1) lists make it SO EASY to shop for people, and 2) on the receiving end, you know you'll be getting things from that list; things you definitely know you like/want/need/have been coveting. It's sort of like the proposal conundrum I talk about in Jeweled. How a girl probably appreciates the Leap of Faith more than the Slam Dunk, but then again, she does want to like the ring she gets. Insert something about tradeoffs here, and I don't have the answer. But I am curious, dear reader, do you prefer giving and working off of lists, or are you won over by the idea of the heartfelt crapshoot? Please answer. These things keep me up at night.

 

 

My sister is a great gift-giver. She almost never asks me for ideas, she just spends the year quietly

collecting things that make her think of me, things she thinks I’ll like, and then I open her Christmas gifts

having absolutely no idea what to expect. These kinds of gifts are my favorite to open, and they are

usually spot on. In terms of how much I like them. Which proves what is possible when you truly know

someone.

Cases in point. She bought and restored an old writing desk I adore and have schlepped across the

country twice and still use. She tracked down the album of songs that a well-known hospital clown sang

at Oakland Children’s when I was a patient there in the late 1980s. Songs that I listened to for years

afterward on a tape I eventually lost track of. Silly I guess, the songs, but being reunited with them so

many years later was one of the biggest and most thoughtful surprises I’ve ever received. One I didn’t

ask for but loved.

 

If I ever had a child and found myself doing the family thing, I’d be tempted to implement a no-list

policy. Meaning no one would be allowed to ask for specific things; rather we’d all just shop for each

other based on what we knew the others would like. It means more, right? It’s better, right? Of course,

it’s also harder. Not to mention, not everyone can do what my sister does. I think she has a knack. A

gifting skill set. Whereas I always seem to say—about my own siblings and parents—what on this green

earth can I possibly get them? Which seems an odd thing, being unsure what to buy for the woman out

of whose womb you tumbled forth. Maybe a pedicure? Some chocolates?

Just yesterday I sent off my Christmas list to my two brothers and my parents, and it reminded me that

1) lists make it SO EASY to shop for people, and 2) on the receiving end, you know you’ll be getting

things from that list; things you definitely know you’ll like/need/want/have been coveting. It’s sort of

like the proposal conundrum I talk about in Jeweled. How a girl probably appreciates the Leap of Faith

more than the Slam Dunk, but then again, she does want to like what she gets. Insert something about

tradeoffs here, and I don’t have the answer. But I am curious, dear reader, do you prefer giving and

working off of lists, or are you won over by the idea of a heartfelt crapshoot? Please answer. These

things keep me up at night.
NOV
28

Giving

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Last year's Thanksgiving post (Grateful) remains my most trafficked to date. Like, by far. As in thousands and thousands more hits than anything else I have ever written. It baffles me a little, because the post was about heartbreak. And are people really that interested in my romantic misfortune? Probably not. But most everyone can probably relate...love and loss inevitably go hand in hand.

When I thought about Thanksgiving this year, about gratitude in general, my surroundings made it uncomfortably easy. See, New York City is a place where you feel grateful at almost every turn, because there are so many here who do not have as much as you do. More than that, they do not have even enough to keep themselves fed, warm, and safe. And while it can be uncomfortable to have a smelly a disheveled pregnant woman step onto your subway car and ask if anyone can help her get food or warmer clothes, or a man with no legs scoot himself and an empty coffee can from car to car, I promise you'll feel much more uncomfortable if you don't give them anything.

You can say what you will about choices and circumstances, about how much someone "deserves" to be given to. You can talk yourself out of giving with any manner of assumption about how these individuals may squander the money, but that's not really within our control. What is--and I do believe it's one of the highest and most important responsibilities we have as humans on this planet--is to serve and care for others. That said, if I were to give to every person who needed it, I'd be on the streets myself, but I do hope this next year we can all become more aware of our abundance and more inspired to use it to help those who are less fortunate.

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm grateful for my readers...even if they are so fascinated by me getting dumped. (There's more where that came from in my next book...)