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The perfect presents — the perfect touch

Submitted by on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 No Comment

When the box arrived yesterday, Dad hustled it into our bedroom, telling the guys it was a “shipment from his new job.” That’s been the standard excuse this holiday season, and the guys aren’t old enough to question why Dad’s suddenly getting so many packages.

I knew it was a needless ruse in this case, because all the “shipments from his new job” were wrapped and under the tree.

That left only one source for the box — Aunt M. That meant it had to be opened immediately.

Aunt M, you see, doesn’t so much send Christmas gifts as she sends experiences.

This year’s adventure — matching mom and guy Christmas aprons, accessorized with a gingerbread girl oven mitt Boots immediately adopted as his puppet, walking it all over the house to nosh on the furniture. Seems there’s still a gap in understanding as to whom eats whom in the gingerbread person-human relationship.

It was perfect. Aunt M knows the guys and I love to bake cookies, and she knows what a big hit the chef’s aprons she sent last year were. The guys won’t make pizza without them, insisting that I wear mine, too.

She’s one of those rare people with an uncanny knack for picking gifts you might never have dreamed existed, never knew you needed but love the second you open them and adore even more as the years go by.

Much of what she sends me revolves around kitchen gear — there were the measuring spoons that doubled quantities one year, the set that included 2/3 and 3/4 cups another. But it’s not all about gadgets and gizmos.

For my wedding gift, Aunt M was able to hone in on the items I wanted most from an embarrassingly lengthy registry — lengthy out of necessity, not greed, because we’d invited 500 guests. The inlaws sniffed that it was a “small” wedding.

Aunt M credits her gift-giving acumen to Grandmommy’s teachings: Always get someone a gift you would love to receive yourself.

But that doesn’t explain the Thomas bucket and book she sent Boots. Or the firetruck and sticker book for Big Guy. Aunt M has done a lot of things in her life, but I don’t think she’s ever been a small boy. She hasn’t even seen the guys in close to two years — far, far too long — and she nailed it.

And that doesn’t explain all the links and newspaper clippings she also sends, magazine articles about food allergies. The vintage cookbooks.

What does explain it: Her ability to get into someone else’s head and heart and know what they would really, truly love and appreciate.

It’s called empathy, and Aunt M has it in spades.

When I was a kid, my goal was to be as tall as Aunt M when I grew up. As an adult, I aspire to reach her considerable height in other ways.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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