It's the Thought that Counts?
November 22, 2013
Last Christmas, largely a Julie Seyfried production! BY ELISE SEYFRIED

Just got the most thoughtful early birthday present. My friend Mary Ellen wrote in for tickets to a taping of The Rachael Ray Show in NYC on December 5th for me and my daughters (Rose, Julie and Ya-Jhu), and the tickets came this morning! Those of you who know me as a cook know how often I use Ray's recipes (several times every week), so I'm as excited as a tween girl going to see Taylor Swift!!

I am lucky enough to be surrounded by gifted gift-givers. I marvel at their uncanny ability to choose exactly what the recipient would love, without outright asking them, so there's the wonderful element of surprise. Included in my Gifting Hall of Fame are my husband and kids, who never fail to come up with presents that others were dreaming of. I'll never forget the year Rosie (who was REALLY young) saved up enough money from her baking business to buy PJ his heart's desire, a Gameboy Color (remember them)? There had been a typhoon near their factory in Asia, so shipments around Christmastime were extremely limited. Undaunted, Rose went on eBay and found the coveted toy, paying much more than she should have, but so delighted to give her brother this treat.  Yaj is also stellar in this department. For someone who hasn't known us that long, she ALWAYS picks the perfect things, accompanying them with the cutest notes. And, truly, no one tops Julie. She is so savvy and clued-in that, last year, I gave her my credit card and asked her to do the Christmas shopping for me. She did an incredible job, and everyone got what they actually wanted (and she came in under budget).

Which leads me to my confession. I am a dreadful shopper. I mean well, really I do. But mine is the unfortunate combination of unobservant and perpetually low on funds come birthdays and holidays. I can only guess at what my loved ones would like, and my guesses are invariably wrong. I stand in the mall, paralyzed, Nat King Cole crooning "Chestnuts roasting..."on the sound system. Finally, in desperation, I purchase either something they already have (and I didn't notice), or something that isn't their taste at all. Everyone is always so nice, and acts like they're pleased with my offerings. But I know better.

So here we are again, heading rapidly into “the most wonderful time of the year.” Others of my acquaintance have squirreled presents away since last January, and now have only to wrap and label and put under the tree. I have purchased zero, a state of affairs likely to continue until December 20th, when once more Nat King Cole will provide the soundtrack to my in-store panic attack.

I hope my family and friends know how much I love them, how grateful I am for them. I hope they will forgive my misguided efforts to buy for them. I promise to include the gift receipts for quick and easy returns!


    I am an author (of three books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

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