Thursday, December 4, 2008

Conscious Consumption, Christmas edition #2 -- It really is the thought that counts!

The best present I ever gave my dad cost me less than a dollar in 1964. It was a tough Christmas. We didn't even have a tree that year, so my mother and I made one with string and our holiday cards. For my dad, who was the sort of person who bought what he needed and hated practical presents, I hit upon what turned out to be sheer genius. There was a picture my mom had taken of him, my brother and I, when we were on vacation in Colorado. We were standing together on a riverbank, all looking relaxed and a little tired. It was a black and white photo, but he was clearly wearing his favorite bright green cardigan sweater (the one he was eventually laid out in in 1994). My brother and I were on either side of him, sagging against his legs, and his hands were resting lightly on our shoulders. No one was looking at the camera or saying "cheese". My eyes are closed and my face was turned up towards my father, almost as if I were purring. It's a beautiful photo, and a rare one, because Dad was usually on the other side of the camera.

I took the photo to the local camera shop and had them enlarge it to 8 1/2 by 11, then put it in a frame from Woolworth's. He was speechless, and little teary-eyed.

Principle: Gift-giving is about expressing love and connection. One great way to do that is to rescue something truly precious from the box of jumbled keepsakes and souvenirs and let it speak.

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