Wednesday, December 26, 2012

881. You Go First, No You

We all have a friend like Katarina:  the one friend who you can truly be yourself around, the one person you can tell anything and she won't judge you, the one friend who makes you giggle for no reason.  I have known Katarina for about four years, and I am kicking myself that I did not meet her decades ago.  Where has she been hiding?     

So Katarina calls the other day and casually says she needs to stop by with a “little something for Christmas.”  I pride myself on being a great gift-giver, so I am super-excited for her to come over because I have something for her, too. 

She arrives and we immediately dive into conversation, the type of conversation that never ends but just temporarily stops until the next time I am lucky enough to see her.  We talk about everything and nothing, our words punctuated with bright confetti laughter.    
She hands me a rectangular shaped box, exquisitely wrapped in thick gold paper and finished off with a green silk ribbon.  I hand her a square box with cartoonish reindeer wrapping paper.  There is no bow, as my kids used all my ribbon to set a trap for the cat two days ago.    

“You go first.”
“No, you.”

I begin to tear into the paper and I see beautiful note cards with an ink drawing of a sweet little cottage.  Wow, I think, that house looks so familiar.  After a few minutes, the worn-out synapses in my brain reach full capacity and I blurt out,  

“Katarina!  That is MY house!” 
That's right.  She hired a professional artist to come over and draw my house and THEN have the drawing made into notecards. 

My house.  Drawn by a professional artist.  Who does this for a living. 

I am flabbergasted at her creativity and generosity.  I am completely speechless. 

Her voice breaks the silence.  “Shall I open mine now?” 
I want to snatch the inferior gift I gave her out of her hand and immediately search around my house for something worthy to give her instead, like stacks of cash or perhaps a diamond tiara.  It’s too late.  She already has it open. 

“Oh, MOV, how wonderful!  It’s a … candle.” 
Her face registers only joy and gratitude, yet I feel compelled to justify the candle.    

“Yes!” she nods. 

“Soy-based!  No chemicals!”

“Fabulous!” she agrees.     

“It’s from the high-end kitchen store!” I offer, grasping at anything to make the candle be better than a candle. 
“I know!” she enthuses appreciatively.  “I love the high-end kitchen store!” 

I stare at the notecards.  Of my house.  That a professional artist has drawn. 
“Katarina, I have to tell you:  that is one of the nicest, most thoughtful gifts I have ever received.  I feel bad.  I should have gotten you something better …” 

Why did I not get her a new car?  A car is a good gift.  She could not top that. 
“MOV, don’t be ridiculous!  I love candles, and lemon is a great flavor.” 

“Whatever.  Anyway, I adore lemon!  I do.”  She smiles sincerely. 

“Oh, okay, then.  Good.  I’m glad you like it.”  I grin back at her, almost convinced that a generic candle is as good a gift as cards of my house.  Drawn by a professional artist. 
“How did the artist do this?” I ask. 

“Well, he drove over here to your house and took pictures.  Then he drew from the pictures.”  She shrugs, as if she is saying, Then I emptied the dishwasher, no big deal.
My mind flips back to that day at the end of summer when that strange stalker-ish person was camped out in front of my house with a camera.  I had called the police. 

I decide not to tell Katarina about that. 
“Katarina, thank you.  I love the cards of my house.” 

Maybe now is not the best time to tell her we are only renting? 


  1. LOL no don't tell her you're renting. This anecdote reminds me of an episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon decides to give Jack a present.

  2. Ugh, I hate it when the other person's gift is way, way better. One year my friend made one of those online photo books that you have printed and bound, of my dog who died. I gave her a travel coffee mug. Oh the shame!!

  3. I hate the unequal gifts thing but not so much because of the disparity. I hate it because a gift is supposed to be about the gesture and not about the gift. I hate that you felt bad. Your gesture to give a friend a gift is of equal "gesturing" as your friend. The cards are cute for sure but you didn't give her a lump of coal or something. I am sure she was sincerely appreciative of your thoughtfulness.

  4. I am privileged to have been on the better gift end this year...I mean I feel badly, but really fortunate too!

  5. The card is amazing! You have great friends!

    I actually bought gift cards this year(and cards to go with them) and then didn't give them because I am so tired of people getting embarrassed because they didn't get me anything (which they don't. That way we are all happy. I saved Christmas.

    True story.

  6. What a cool idea for note cards; I bet the candle smells great when she burns it! It is hard to know what the best gift will be; I've been on both ends; gave good ones, got good ones on years I gave "less than adequate ones" and this year when I got gifts from people I didn't buy for. I think it takes art to say "thanks" for the best gift and not have to justify our gifts given or no gift given, but just to be grateful for the fact someone thought somewhat highly of us to get us something. Make sense? And the good thing is you have 364 days to look for that perfect gift for next year!


  7. I am regular visitor, how are you everybody?
    This post posted at this site is truly pleasant.
    my webpage :: painted swamp star coins

    1. On behalf of everybody, we are all doing great.

      And how are you, might we ask? It is good to see you again. Since you're a regular visitor and all.

      You know, I was sitting here, trying to think of the right thing to say about this post (that was written by our favorite blogger, MOV, whom we visit regularly)... something that would truly capture the essence of why this post was as incredible as it was... but I couldn't quite come up with the words that would do it justice.

      And as I was trying to come up with something, I glanced up at your comment and saw that you had captured my thoughts completely and commented so eloquently, that no more words were needed... that you had said everything that needed to be said.

      For this post posted at this site truly is pleasant. You're as right as you are general.

      Couldn't have said it better myself.

      It is also great to see that you are still as confident as ever in your coin business, despite the fact that there must be no money coming your way (Do you see what I did there? Sorry, old friend. You know how I kid around!).

      Where were we?

      Oh yes! Your business. All kidding aside, you're way ahead of your time and we all (all of us) know that it is just a matter of time before your painted swamp star coins just take off! Whether they are coins from swamps that have stars on them or coins from stars that have pictures of swamps on them, all that matters is that they are painted. Once you get your hands on those painted coins, it's like printing money! (Do you see what I did there, again?)

      Again, great to see that you're still feeling good enough about your business to continue sharing the link to your webpage, like a gentle nudge to remind us that you're still around. Kicking.

      Thanks for stopping by again, Nony.

  8. Well now that I know what your house looks like I can drive up and down every street until I find you. I am your new (or maybe not so new) stalker.

  9. The good friend gift exchange. I do that every year, and every year I hold my breath. There are the years when you know your friend is on a budget, so you buy her something accordingly (as to not hurt her budgeted feelings)Then the next year, you happen to be on a budget, and hope that your friend still is , but Noooooo, her husband switched jobs and she bought you a white gold necklace engraved with a Friendship Quote from Red Envelope, and you bought her slipper socks and a Starbucks card. I feel you on this one MOV. Great post as usual! Always love your endings ;) Maybe you can re-gift the cards to the new renters/owners if you ever move.

  10. Ugh! I love giving gifts and this would make me stew for a long time. Not that you should. No. It's nothing. The candle sounds really nice.


When you write a comment, it makes me feel like I won the lottery or at the very least like I ate an ice-cream sundae. (This has nothing to do with the fact that I did just eat an ice-cream sundae.)