Birthday Gifts

The year our son turned 15, my husband and I gave him a blender as part of his birthday gift.

“You gave me a blender,” he intoned with furrowed brow and puzzled expression in a voice that confirmed that the parents of this particular 15-year-old, if not all parents of 15-year-olds, are insane. (I’m sure some of you are familiar with that voice.)

There was method to our gift giving madness. Our son has always had a knack and a love for working with food, and his 15-year-old self had earned the place of milkshake master for our family that spring. The blender that was the key kitchen tool for his milkshake creations was one that I had received as a shower gift decades before and had earned its keep well over those decades – had indeed made baby food for this same son and his two sisters – but was at that time a senior citizen of the small appliance world and was becoming arthritic. Since I believe good tools help make good creations, and since a quality blender was on sale for half price, a blender seemed to me a great gift for a child who would be craving maple banana milkshakes in his own kitchen in a few years’ time.

I was a little premature, it seems.

The blender was not received with quite the gusto I expected and was swiftly exiled to that no-man’s-land situated at the bottom of our son’s bedroom closet where it served its sentence for several years, waiting for this child to become a man with a wife, a house, and the responsibility of being the chef for his new little family.

I’ll allow that the blender might have come into his life a few years before it was time, but it was in the end appreciated. I’m told it makes a first-class cauliflower soup and is well used.

Let me tell you a parallel story of another birthday gift that was received by a child who one might think would have been too young to receive such a gift. This time, it was a 7-year-old child accepting a birthday present from her parents. The gift was an original oil painting by a local artist, whimsical and magical in design with exquisite blends of living colours deep on the canvas.

“So, what did Julia say when she opened your gift to her?” I asked the child’s mom when we spoke of this birthday present, expecting her answer to be an echo of the same monotone puzzlement that my son exhibited on the Blender Birthday.

“She was over the moon!” Julia’s mother said. “In fact, the painting was on her wish list as soon as she saw it in an art show this past summer. We’ve met the artist too, and she told Julia all about their painting.”

Well, well. This is something one does not hear every day, but doesn’t it just warm you to hear it? There are two levels of wonderfulness here. On one level, we have Julia’s mother making the world of art available to her child, not only by buying the painting that captured Julia, but by thinking of taking her young daughter to the art show in the first place, giving her the opportunity to know that such a thing as whimsical, magical, colourful art exists in her world. On the other level is Julia herself, who has with some combination of Nature and Nurture in her life, found in herself an appreciation for art that will stand her in good stead forever.

Stained glass name plate commissioned as a gift for a client's family.

Stained glass name plate commissioned as a gift for a client’s family.