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The perfect gift

December 24, 2012 - Carrie Olson
Before leaving New York City last week, I spent a hefty amount of time searching for perfect gifts for family. Each time I asked them for some advice, the answer would be “something from New York.” A lot of help. So I scoured lower, mid and upper Manhattan, hoping to come near something that could give me that “A Ha! Moment”. Nothing ever did. I looked in the small shops near Bryant Park. Too kitschy. FAO Schwartz. Too expensive. I went to boutiques, huge department stores, and even street vendors in search of said presents. I either found generic items that could be found anywhere or beautiful things that would unload my savings account. Nothing was perfect.

I had imagined that my first year away from family and friends would be spent sending back fun and cool items that couldn’t be found anywhere else. Need a baby gift? Bam, in the mail it goes. An engagement gift? Here you go, a one-of-a-kind item. While I do find interesting stuff that I had never seen before or clothing styles that are much different than my own — I have yet to find something that can’t be purchased in some form on the Internet. (As of this writing, I am still in search for the perfect NYC wedding gift for a good friend that had her wedding in September! I am now thinking that a gift card will soon be in the mail.)

After such a shopping overload and nothing yet wrapped to go in my luggage, I kind of gave up. My mom had been calling me for gift ideas of my own and I couldn’t even give an answer to that. I sat in my local park (no, not Central Park) and thought about all of this hoopla for awhile. I wanted everything to be perfect - gifts and whatnot - and most likely for selfish reasons. I wanted to come home. In all of this frenzied shopping, all I really wanted was to be near my family and for the time to be perfect for all of us. And honestly, I didn’t want any gifts. I just wanted a plane ticket home.

I have walked the street in front of Macy’s. We have spent time skating at Bryant Park and seeing the giant tree at Rockefeller Center. NYC is a beautiful, exciting place at this time of year. And yet, in all of it’s majestic glory, I just wanted the quiet of small town Iowa.

It was after this moment of clarity that I realized my gifts didn’t have to be perfect. More likely than not, my own family wanted me home too (well, hopefully).

So while other people may have spent money on lavish gifts from expensive stores in midtown, I went to a Times Square gift shop for some tacky items. To Century 21, a crazy cheap discount store, for clothing that is technically from NYC. And to Target and for some gifts that would be shipped directly to Iowa. And while they aren’t the “perfect” gifts, they are presents that I am sure my family will enjoy. And whatever gifts come under the tree for me, I am glad to receive them. But my perfect gift has already arrived. From baking and cooking to watching movies while eating Chinese food — spending time with my siblings, parents, niece have made for the best Christmas present I could possibly ask for.

Merry Christmas!


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