Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music ...
Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music Education from Truman State. Now retired, Rich enjoyed reading, writing music and short essays. He is the director of Kirksville Community Chorus.
MCKNOTES ON GIFT GIVING
I have always believed that gifts can be really effective if the whole idea is approached correctly. I’ve heard it said that one should buy things they’d like to receive themselves. Well, that can be a little self-serving, but it also makes pretty good sense sometimes. I’ve always heard that the thing to get someone who has everything is nothing.
I think it can be really meaningful to give a gift that is made especially for the person. Not all people are creative enough to fashion the gifts they give, but there are a good many artisans out there that really do lovely work. Last year I received a wooden bowl and a wooden ornament made by a local artisan. They are both beautiful and immediately became treasures to me. Arts and craft fairs like the one held in Kirksville every autumn are a good place to find excellent gifts that can be purchased well ahead of the holiday rush.
I like gifts that are thoughtful; gifts that I know the giver has really considered what I might like to have, or even need. Most of us, either consciously or unconsciously, hint that we would like one thing or another. When I ask a person what I can get for them, I only ask because I really want to get them something they either need or want to have. People are usually embarrassed by this, though. I think it’s fine to go ahead and let someone know if there’s a particular gift you might like to receive, or if you have something that you actually need. I like to feel good about the gifts I give.
Because I have been a musician all my life, many of the people with whom I associate are also musically inclined. On occasion, I have written music as a gift. Sometimes that’s really well received, but not always. I guess there’s no sure thing when it comes to gifts. Some women really like jewelry, but it’s a mistake to think that every woman wants a piece of jewelry. Some housewives would truly be delighted with a kitchen appliance that saved them time and effort, while others might really be offended that they have not received a more personal gift.
The trick is knowing the people you’re buying for. I have ten great nieces and nephews. I don’t like to give them toys. I’ve seen their homes and happen to know that they have plenty of plastic toys, most of which have been discarded in rather short order. I like to give them either savings bonds for their future education, or gift cards for a book store so that they can choose some reading material that appeals to them. I always stipulate that the money I send their way is not to be used for toys, but for something that will enhance their education process. When they were younger, I gave the money to my sisters and told them my “rules” for how my money was to be spent. I think they made good use of those gifts. My sisters are the grandmothers of these great nieces and nephews, so they know what might be useful to their grandchildren.
Whatever you give, make sure it’s something you really feel good about. This is especially difficult when we are bombarded with commercial that tell us how wonderful certain products are. Gifts are ways of letting people know we care about them. They don’t have to be expensive, just heart-felt. Shopping early makes it much easier to identify a gift that is really right for your friend or relative.
Finally, gifts can be even more effective when they are not Christmas or birthday presents. One can give gifts the year round. Sometimes, giving a gift without being prompted by a special day or event can be even more meaningful.