Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gifts, gifting and giftiness

Spoiler alert--Christmas is coming. I know, I hate to be surprised, too.

What do you do when you are trying to choose a gift for an incredibly special person in your life, and your approach to gift-giving is completely different from theirs? In my family, we always choose useful gifts. We like useful gifts, like gift cards, sheet sets, kitchen knives, iPods. My special person believes in giving useless gifts. But no gift is really useless, is it?

When I receive something that had no other purpose than to make me happy, it would be useful. That's the way I see it. And after all, isn't gift giving--at least partially--about what the gift says about the giver? You see, I've already decided what to give this person for the holidays. I decided this based on things he has said he enjoys having and using, and partly on things I want to give him. He hasn't said he wants these things. I didn't check them off his wish list. I think he will like them. I'm not worried about the quality of the gifts, so to speak. But what if he isn't so interested in them because they are "useful"? Perhaps some "useless" gift should be waiting in the wings? Are they going to be perceived as boring or pedantic?

To be perfectly honest (and if you can't tell the truth at Christmas, when can you, eh?) I am a little intimidated by "useless" gifts. Especially if you haven't known the person for years and years. I feel like giving these sorts of gifts takes some warming up to. Maybe my love language is acts of service, so that translates into the type of gift I naturally lean towards.

I'll figure this out. But I think I'll have a useless gift or two around just in cases.

Friday, November 28, 2008

New opportunities

Exciting news! I have been asked to teach a class for the spring semester on curatorial research & planning. I'm going to start small--only one student, actually. We are going to learn all about locating and interpreting primary source material and using them to reinterpret a historic home owned by the university. I'm so proud of this particular student. This project--like all projects you could propose to me--need to be done. Everything about my job screams "do me now." Which sounds racier than it really is. Not going back to edit.

This kid reminds me of the student I wish I had been--and was, in some ways. She has these huge circles under her eyes, and always comes in with a scraggly ponytail, toting books by hand and backpack. Me, too. She also has all these plans that she can't yet articulate with sentences full of "I'm kinda thinking of..." or "Something to do with historic preservation and art. Maybe?" Yep--me again. While I don't think everything about my college experience was a wash (clearly), I hope I can provide her with some more focused guidance I wish I had been given.