When I was living in Phoenix a few years ago, I became great friends with my neighbor, Scott. This was the beginning of an awesome group of friends that became my “family” while living there. Scott is one of the most intelligent, passionate, genuine friends I have. It didn’t surprise me that one year, he gave me one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received.
He gifted me three books and a letter explaining why he picked each one. The books were very well thought out and a combination of books he thought I would like and books he cherished for certain reasons. The three books were Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Evening News by Marly Swick.
In the letter, he mentioned a conversation we had about buying more physical books and starting a personal library of great literature. He also included a bookmark from his favorite used bookstore so I could start my collection. So damn thoughtful.
I asked Scott to share some words about gift giving and this gift specifically. And in true Scott fashion, he responded with this beautiful and personal statement:
"I believe a great gift has two components: 1) something that speaks to how well you know the recipients interests & passions and 2) something that speaks to the giver's personality. I remember my first Christmas far away from my family. I had been living in Phoenix for a year and a half and had a small group of very close friends, a group that Rachel was an integral part of. Rachel was traveling to be with her family for the holidays, so I gave the gift before she left.
The gift consisted of a letter and several books. The letter gave some background information on the why behind it as well as well wishes and safe travels for the holidays. The letter and selection of books spoke to my personality. I deeply believe that the written word is the strongest way to make a statement. I could have handed Rachel the books and explained each one in person. However, that explanation would drift away with time, fading into the deep recesses of human memories. Instead, the letter served as somewhat of a permanent reminder of the thought and purpose behind the gift.
I knew Rachel was an avid reader. I thought, on the surface, books would be a great gift especially since Rachel would be traveling over the holidays. I knew I wanted to gift books to Rachel after a conversation we had about how, when Rachel first moved to Phoenix, she spent so much time in the library, finding friends in the authors and characters she plowed through. This idea leveraged Rachel's interests but also symbolized a changing of the guard. Sure, Rachel was still an avid reader, but I hoped the thought behind the gift would show that we had begun to dig deeper into interpersonal relationships; Rachel and I were friends to the deepest levels of our humanity. We could enjoy characters and authors, but we would enjoy them with a layer of interpersonal connection. We would now be crafting our own story of our time together in Phoenix full of real, magical experiences."
Thank you, Scott. Your thoughtfulness when it comes to friendship and gift giving is what inspires me and this blog.