My son bought me a Lego Ninja for Christmas. It’s attached to a keyring, and the feet light up like two mini flashlights when you press the logo on his chest.
Phoenix was two years old when he picked it out. Heather had taken him to the store to do groceries, and he grabbed it off the rack of toys and trinkets. At first, Heather objected.
“No, you can’t have that,” she told him.
“Dada. Dada,” he said insistently, holding the Lego man firmly.
He was still too young to form full sentences (still is now), but somehow Heather understood that he meant to buy it for me. Not even two years old, and he wanted to buy his dad a Christmas present.
When I did open it on Christmas day, he didn’t try to take it back or play with it himself. I put it on my key holder. The ninja is chunky and usually digs into my thigh when I have the keys in my pocket, but I love having this thing with me. Even when I pull the keys out, and the blue ninja dangles out, making me look about twelve years old in front of people, it reminds me of Phoenix.
It also reminds me of the time my brother and sisters and I were little, maybe six or seven, and we wanted to get our dad a present. I can’t remember if it was his birthday or if it was an occasion of any kind. But we didn’t have money, so we wanted to make him something. My father loved drinking Coca Cola, so my sisters used the base of a two-liter bottle and turned it into a drinking cup. The edges were ragged, and in all reality, it was a pretty horribly-made thing. My brother and I knew my father loved taking notes. He always carried a pocketful of pens. Pens of every color. So I stapled together a tiny notebook. There were maybe 20 or 30 pages, but the notebook was probably no bigger than a business card.
For whatever reason, a resentful doubt grew in me before we gave him our gifts. I was convinced that he would put on a show, thank us for our gestures, and then throw away the cup and notebook at the first chance he got. Instead, he actually used the bottle base as a drinking cup in his office. And later, he transformed it into a pen holder. And our notebook, which was too tiny to be practical, he actually used to write down the grocery list.
I think, in the end, the fact that he actually used our gifts touched me more than our gesture must have touched him. The memory of those two gifts is faint now. I don’t remember all the details, but it’s remarkable that twenty-some years later, I still remember my father using our gifts.
What about you?
Is there a gift someone gave you that, even though silly, it meant a lot to you?