Friday, 14 November 2008

The perfect gift

Everywhere I go I hear Christmas music. The atmosphere - I mean the literal air - is already changing in that indefinable way that it does at the onset of the tropical winter: the nights are cooler; there's an extra clarity in the blueness of the sky, a pellucid depth, and a certain invigorating buoyancy in the breeze. Yes, folks. Christmas is in the air.

I've been told I'm a Scrooge. I love certain aspects of the season, like the relief from the scorching heat. Snuggling under my comforter is a pleasant change from tearing clothes off my sweaty skin and hauling the fan as close as it can get in the middle of the night. But I hate the fuss, the excess, the commercialization, the obligation to do stuff. And then - horror! horror! - there are the gifts.

Gift giving can drive you insane. Many people end up receiving gifts they don't really want, and giving the same kind. Some über-organized souls make up their lists months beforehand, while others run out in a frenzy at the last minute and grab whatever they can: "I'll get this dog collar for Caryn. Wait, Caryn doesn't have a dog! Damn, maybe this throw cushion. Does she like these things? I don't even remember what her house looks like! Maybe these towels? Scented candles? Soaps? Damn, damn, damn! Next year is gonna be different!"

Next year is here, and there's a solution to the gift dilemma. Random House has kicked off a campaign, and I think it's a fantastic idea: "This holiday season... Give the Gift of Reading!" Just think about it:
  • A book is the perfect size.
  • It's easy to wrap.
  • It gives hours and hours of pleasure.
  • It's reasonably priced.
  • It's convenient, portable, and can be visited again and again.
  • There's one to suit every imaginable taste and interest.
I used to argue with my mother every time she returned from a trip abroad. I'd tell her beforehand not to get me anything, and she'd return loaded with stuff I didn't need, clothes I'd never wear, bras and shoes that didn't fit. I had a brainwave a few summers ago: I gave her a short list of books I wanted and told her to get me anything on it. Now she spends happy hours browsing Barnes & Noble or Borders, and when she returns I'm always delighted with my presents. Books make perfect gifts! And if you're not quite sure which books to choose, then gift certificates or book vouchers are the way to go.

Let's start a movements, folks. Especially at this time when people are watching their spending ver-ry carefully, let's encourage everyone to GIVE BOOKS THIS CHRISTMAS!


#1 Guitar Rocker! said...

Great idea!

I'm just trying to figure out if it would be rude to suggest specific things for my kids because my house cannot/should not endure another influx of toys. Crafts (although not one more tea set to paint -- no more tea sets), clothes (and they have to be a certain fashion or they just stay in the drawer, or books.

I have an aunt who gives a border's gift certificate every year. At first I thought it lacked thought, now it's my favorite thing. We save it until the holiday rush is over and the dull of winter sets in and poof, a treat awaits.

JJ said...

Yep, I'm on the campaign with you Liane. Fabulous. I particularly LOVE to receive book vouches. I enjoy the feeling of potential books as it nestles in my purse; I love the browsing and not spending it and I love the eventual spending.

kim said...

#1 guitar rocker! is me, kim. I keep forgetting we have another blogger in the house now -- that's my Winnie. I just did the same thing on swishy's blog.

..."who's this guitar rocker who babbles away just like kim? ohhh, it IS kim."

wordtryst said...

Hey #1 guitar rocker! Welcome to the blog! I don't think it's rude to suggest things for the little ones; as a matter of fact I think you should! Their gifts should be a combination of stuff that they want and stuff that's good for them, imo.

As for the gift certificates: I love em. I got one from the staff of a school where I did a short-term teaching stint last year and it came in very handy - got birthday gifts for my mom and son with it. For me, books are a surefire happy-maker!

wordtryst said...

JJ, welcome aboard the campaign boat! I'm going to edit my post to include book vouchers. Love those too!

wordtryst said...

Kim, LOL! Off I went to check the rocker's profile!

I've done that too! Several times! Forgot I was signed in to the company account and went off and commented as 'the firm'. Had to delete each time and repost - didn't think the company would appreciate my blunder!

Kanani said...

I tend to give to charities because everyone I know impulsively buys books and at this point in their lives, we're using stacks of them as seats when we visit!

Debs said...

I think that's a great idea, I'll definately be suggesting it to those near me.

PJ said...

I love to give books as gifts, but so few of my family and friends are regular readers (or even irregular).

I've given my mum a few books over the years, but she never looks at them and eventually I end up reading them after they've been on the shelf for ages.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Good call. I'm with you on this one.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

I ordered your book, Liane!

Debi said...

Spot on! We don't do Xmas but I decided a while back that any time I need to buy a gift it should be a book.

Supportive of other authors and general good karma ... what's not to love?

Wordtryst said...

Kanani, I like your people. Half-buried by avalanches of books is the only way to live!

Debs, so will I!

PJ, that's a real pity. Then again, you can always buy them books you really want to read, sort of like the husband who buys his wife power tools... :)

Zinnia, I've been reading so many doom-and-gloom predictions for the publishing industry that I'm on a mission! When times are hard, book sales should go up, not the other way, imo. Books cost so little and give so much!

Sandra, thank you! I already have The Space Between, and Bad Ice is on my list!

Debi, yes, it's win-win all around.

Flowerpot said...

excellent idea and I quite agree about the commercialisation of Christmas. Grrr.....!