I realize in my previous post (you know, the one way back in August) I promised a recap of my time in MN. Well...perhaps another time. I have so many things I need to write about. I'm sure many of you are wondering about my job and what I've been up to in general, and I'll say that I love my job and things are going great. I'm thriving here and couldn't be happier.
But that's not what I want to talk about either.
Keeping with this week's theme, I'll talk about Christmassy things. Seems logical.
I recently listened to This American Life's latest episode, Thought That Counts, and was hit with a powerful memory of a Christmas from my teenage years. Before I get to that story, the episode was about gift giving and, well, the thought that goes into the gifts we give. Sometimes no thought goes into the gift other than "giving for the sake of giving" but, usually, we have some sort of intent. From the daughter who spends every penny of her savings (including her birthday money) to buy her mother a special piece of jewelry to the coworker who pulled Jim's name out of the hat for Secret Santa, we all have our reasons for giving "that" gift to "that" person. The episode was very moving for me, particularly for the memory it gave me...
When I was a teen, I would say 14 or 15, I was heavy into a particular band that, do not ask me why, I can't even remember the name of today. All I know is that I was seriously obsessed with this particular band. OBSESSED. This was the days of cds so I pretty much would have given an arm and a leg for that cd. It wasn't as simple as going on iTunes and downloading it - back then, you had to actually go to a store and purchase the music you wanted. And this particular cd was not sold in Bemidji, so my only hope of getting it was to hope for a trip to Media Play in Fargo. (At least I think that's what the store was called....it was, for me, THE place to find whatever cd I wanted. They had everything.)
Since it was close to Christmas, and Bemidji didn't have as wide a variety of stores as Fargo, my mom brought us one day so we could buy our presents. I'm sure I went and drooled over said cd, but since we were approaching Christmas I knew I couldn't pick anything out for myself. I did make sure my mom knew I wanted that cd though.
I remember getting home and taking a peek at the receipt and....EEEEEEE!!!! the cd was on it!! I was stoked. So. Freaking. Stoked. Christmas was close enough and that was seriously the only thing I wanted. Aw yiss.
Christmas day came and the only cd shaped present with my name on it was from my sister. Kick ass, she got me the one thing I wanted!! I picked it as my first gift to open and...what the hell. It was Lynyrd Skynyrd. I was SO pissed. What a bitch. She KNEW I wanted that cd yet bought me this crap? But then...what happened to the cd I saw on the receipt? What I am about to say is something I still feel very ashamed about.
I threw a fit.
I literally had a little bitch fit.
WHY THEW HELL WOULD YOU BUY ME LYNYRD SKYNYRD!?!?!? I HATE THIS BAND!! I WANTED [BAND NAME HERE]'s CD!!!
My father even tried to intervene, and I am pretty sure he actually said something along the lines of "Mahli, it's the thought that counts!," but I was pissed. She told me to just open the cd. Still pissed off at her, I did.
Had I simply appreciated her gift, I would have been pleasantly surprised at what I found inside:
A note telling me "Just Kidding!, I know you really wanted [band name here]'s cd, so I bought it for you!" with her then handing me the actual cd (with, and I don't blame her one bit, a bit of reluctance).
I can't believe how self centered and bratty I was. I can say with confidence that today I have MUCH better manners, but damn. My parents raised me better than that.
I wanted to share this story because, at a time of giving, it's also important to show appreciation for the gifts you are receiving. Whether you like the gift or not - whether it's something you absolutely love or something that makes you immediately think "oh, wonderful, another sweater that's two sizes too big" - be appreciative. You may never know or understand the actual thought that went into it - and you don't have to - but at least try to see it for what it is: A gift. Someone spent time and money (two very important commodities in this day and age) and - more than likely (and more importantly) - a bit of thought on that gift. Appreciate the act in itself. Hell, I can't even remember the cd I so badly needed at the time, just the fact that my sister put a lot of thought into her gift to me. And I reacted in a shameful way when I thought it was something other than what I wanted and expected. And I can't even imagine how that made her feel.
Jerusa, I'm really sorry. I know it was ages ago, and perhaps you don't remember, but I am really, really sorry for my behavior that day. I'm sure if it had actually been a Lynyrd Skynyrd cd, I'd have (probably secretly) learned to love it. I know you put a lot of thought into it - not just the present, but the presentation - and I want you to know that of all the gifts I've received in my life, this is the one that I often think of. I think about all the consideration you put into it, and it's something I will always appreciate, even if I didn't at the moment. The love you put into that gift still resonates with me today. Thank you for that.
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May you love and be loved this season :)
xoxo - Mahli
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