Goddess mug shot The Goddess Speaks

Carol T. Chun

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Best presents offer
pleasant memories

I have my Christmas shopping list on an Excel document. Each time I make a purchase, I pull up my document and put an asterisk next to that name. Last week, I triumphantly put an asterisk next to Norman's name. I was pau for 2003.

I'm so anal-retentive that I even list what I got for each person. I don't want to duplicate gifts from year to year, so I keep past lists on file, too. Shop clerks always appear impressed with my printed list. I know what they're thinking: "My God, this lady has way too much time on her hands."

I don't care. I strive not to go to any shopping mall for the first 25 days of December. Some years, I succeed in totally avoiding the crowds, especially those looking for a parking space.

The other day, I was thinking about "ultimate" gifts -- not new cars or large sums of money, but gifts that evoke fond memories.

My niece, Shantel, received a stuffed Humpty Dumpty when she was little. She dragged that thing to Disneyland when she was 2, and she couldn't sleep without "Dumpty."

She has two kids of her own now, and a couple of years ago, I found a Hawaiian Humpty Dumpty at a craft fair. I knew immediately that I had to get it for her. That little Dumpty got all of us talking about the original Dumpty and how it got a lot of mileage. The conversation then segued to Bryan and his "Puppy," a smelly, hairless stuffed dog. On wash day it was hung out to dry and he would sit under it, crying for "Puppy."

When a friend turned 50, I gave her a box of 50 each of 50 things. After item 35, it gets harder to find things around the house that can be counted out to 50. Fifty toothpicks, 50 matchsticks, 50 pieces of hard candy. Try it sometime with a friend turning 50.

A treasured photo in a nice frame is always a good idea. I made a poster of a photo from the '50s for my sister. It was of her three oldest children, my brother and I dressed up for Halloween. It brought her to tears. She hung it up in her office, and when the store's new personnel director walked in, she declared, "What's Carol doing on your wall?" This was someone I'd known since high school who recognized me as a 10-year-old.

For my mother's 90th birthday, I made a memory quilt of family photos depicting our family tree. I have to admit that I think I've outdone myself on that one. In the two years since I made the quilt, we've had a couple of additions to the family, so my next project will be to update the quilt.

This past Sunday, I received the best gift -- that is, next to a happy, healthy family. This was the gift of continued friendship.

My girlfriends and I still get together twice a year, and on Sunday we had our annual Christmas lunch. How wonderful it was to sit with old friends and eat and laugh. We exchange small gifts -- at our age we're happy to receive presents. The only cost of friendship is time. Make time for your friendships, and make that your gift to each other.

Carol Chun is a mother of two who works at Punahou School.

The Goddess Speaks is a feature column by and
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