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8 + 8 Presents For My Children, Past And, Well, Present

I have been extravagant with my children over the years. Not when they were little — few electronics, no cashmere hoodies. I did once try to dress my daughter in a beautiful silk shortall from Dad’s family, but that lasted all of 7 minutes. And there was no point giving either kid big expensive toys.


My daughter could use anything as a prop for imaginary games. Then she’d ask for a friend to come over, or even better two, or twelve, and could we take the friends out for lunch and how about ice cream too? And could they spend the night?

My son was more inclined to pursuits that didn’t require other people. But he stayed with each so long — origami for 5 years, Pokemun for another few, giving way to Magic The Gathering and basketball forums —  he rarely wanted much Big or New.

Things changed when my children grew up, and moved away from me. Things will do that. I often channeled my maternal yearning into presents, sometimes impulsive, sometimes plotted and planned. In the salaried years I splurged, even in leaner times I can’t resist indulgence.

Reader Kathy G. asked me, last year, “What are the best presents you ever got?” The thing is, I’ve thought and thought and I simply can’t remember. But what I’ve given, that’s another story.

Presents For My Son In A Loving Montage With Ironic Magritte References


    1. This year he tells me he wants something like this Victorinox jacket. Technical is the new chic, apparently.
    2. Impulsively, a couple of years back, I pinged both kids and said, “Hey, I’m up for presents!” I sent them each suggestions. My son picked a tweed coat somewhat like this one from Etro, albeit a little subtler. Farfetch is a great site for unique pieces, or at least pieces apt to be unique in my neighborhood.
    3. This year I’ve told him I think he may need a scarf like this.
    4. When he moved to his first apartment in Brooklyn, I gave him coral-colored sheets and a duvet cover, in bamboo I think? Above are linen, from Crate & Barrel. I also like these cotton paisley ones, from Macy’s.
    5. When he moved to his third apartment in Brooklyn, this time looking out over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, I gave him the Oransi Erik Ultra air purifier. Good for particulate matter, which can be particularly damaging to health when you live near a highway.
    6. When he was 5 or 7 we gave him mostly origami books.
    7. When he was 4-ish, we gave him gym balls. Actually, those were a joint present for him and his sister. He and his best friend played Jumping From Bed To Ball Olympics. My daughter played, We Are Queens And Princesses Of A Far Away Land And We Can Only Travel Across The Seas With These Giant Balls Which Are Really Our Butts Or Our Princess Dresses, Either Way.
    8. At some point in his college years I began to give my son cashmere from Nordstrom. Their John W. Nordstrom sweaters are excellent quality and fairly priced. His favorite is slate blue.

Presents For My Daughter In An Earnest History Of Love And Admiration


    1. This year I suspect my daughter might like an Anthropologie blouse. Would look nice under a white coat, no? But we’re going to go shopping and choose together.
    2. That time I pinged my kids impulsively with “I’m on for $$”, my daughter chose a Coach bag. They don’t make hers any more, but these are close. Some are on sale.
    3. One year at college in New Jersey it snowed a lot and she was cold. I got her a J. Crew puffer coat. Like this, but longer and no faux fur.
    4. One year at college in New Jersey her lips got chapped and boys got mean. I sent her 5 different lip balms. I’m sure one of them was Fresh. If I repeated the gift I’d go for Korres.
    5. She traveled a good deal for her first job out of college. We got her a Victorinox suitcase. Hers is gray, more recognizable than black, but not childish like purple or pink.
    6. When she was 3 0r 4, a set of plastic dogs. Turns out you can model entire civilizations out of little critters. I still have them.
    7. Tangrams, AKA wooden pattern blocks. I suppose these were really for me. I would watch her and and her little brother laying out primary-colored shapes on our Persian rug and feel my heart beating louder from pride.
    8. The tiniest pearl ring, from Catbird.

When I told my kids I’d like to write a post about their presents, my son sent me this email.

Hi Mom,

Am thinking about this. As for writing, perhaps you could say I need a coat, a cavity removed, some more sage shipped in a hello kitty pouch, and if-it-be-found a necklace chain studded with small semi-precious stones.
[His Name]
& Hi [Daughter’s Name]! See you soon!
He added later.
Oh, and I’d also like a soccer ball

My daughter and I had a phone conversation. When I asked her “What was your favorite present from me?” she thought of the Catbird ring – which we saw at a Cotswold workshop on our trip to the UK. Since that trip I often call her My Little Companion. As when she was my first, in a stroller.

Raising another human being is an explosion of wonder and love. That is, when it’s not a long and somewhat confused slog.

Merry Christmas, my children, I love you both forever.

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32 Responses

  1. What a lovely post, and what’s more amazing, is that you can remember all of this! I can remember a few gifts for my daughter, at odd times like graduations, but honestly not one holiday gift comes to mind, except money.

    1. @Kathy, How interesting! I wonder why these stuck with me so? I love giving presents, it’s my favorite thing, maybe that’s why? Or else, random happenings of the universe:).

    2. I love giving presents too. I think it’s the Hanukkah/Christmas thing that for years was way too hectic, so it all jumbles in my mind. This year my daughter wants a new rocker/glider for the kid’s room, so I think I’ll remember this. I love that Catbird pearl ring.

  2. “and if-it-be-found a necklace chain studded with small semi-precious stones”

    Challenge! Shall we crowd source the young man’s necklace right here? Need to know the length he has in mind first, ie Short [it’s visible wearing a collared shirt], or Long [it’s invisible wearing that same collared shirt].

    And Merry Christmas Lisa, her children and her “significant husband”!

    1. @TheHuntingHouse, Yes! We need to know length, and style of chain too, right? Big links? Little links? Mystery! Merry Christmas to you too, HuntingHouse. Thank you so much for alerting me to the Twitter photo from yesterday’s conference!

    2. @TheHuntingHouse, GREAT photo, may I add. I don’t have a Twitter account but thankfully one may view tweets while hitchhiking through.

      Yeah, and “studded” says the gems stand still [rather than dangle/move]. And “chain” says links rather than a continuous, running snake. So, do the gemstones occur at intervals along the links, indeed to the gems lodge firmly into the hole in the links themselves. Gold, silver, alloy?

  3. How sweet memories! Love shines from your every word,I can feel it.
    And how wonderful -bonding the memories with wishes and plans,knitting the plethora of ideas for us! Masterpiece!
    I remember gifts for my son. He was unpretentious as a child. Wishes-hm,we’ll hear,he is comming home for Christmas tomorrow

  4. This is so sweet.

    I hope your son gets his cavity filled.

    As a lip balm addict, must say that Fresh is my current favorite lip product. But is Korres even better?!

  5. I just love this post. I’ve always gotten a thrill buying presents for my son. We’ve never been too extravagant, but now that he’s off our payroll it’s even more fun to spoil him with surprise gifts.

    1. @Patsy, Me & Ro are amazing. In fact my son and I are going to take a look at some of my unused jewelry and see if something like what he wants can be made from it…

  6. Probably the best presents for my son when he was little were Legos. He played with them for hours and hours.

    When he was older I made him Hawaiian shirts. He loved it when someone complimented him, and he would tell them his mother had made it.

  7. Love buying gifts for my girls. Youngest wanted a game boy back in the day. Will never forget her reaction upon receiving it. Priceless. Always a treat to think of our children for gifts–little or big. Recently brought them home Burts Bees Pomegranate lip balm.

    Lovely mamma post.

  8. Love this post! I am at the legos star wars phase here!

    Mr FF asked me what I wanted and I said a 90 cm Hermes carre but they are $650 here so I don’t hold my breath.

    I’ve been reading you for 6 years now! x

  9. 1. Best gift?
    I actually do remember the best gift I ever got – a gold heart on a chain for my birthday (41 years ago). The giver and I have just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.
    2. Explosion of wonder and love or long and somewhat confused slog?
    I’m going with the confused slog. My kids are getting on in years (33 and 37) and I keep hoping I can finally stop worrying about them and just bask in their glory, but I still find myself waking up at 2 in the morning, hoping they’re home and safe in their beds.

  10. Lovely! Can you adopt me, Lisa? (As your sister, or something?).

    Best gift I’ve ever received: The year my husband and I were broke and he wrote a story for me, even “aging” the paper to make it look ancient, all tied up in a scroll. I bawled.

    Best gift I’ve ever given: A mini “book” I wrote and illustrated for my husband called “50 Things I Love About You.”

  11. “Raising another human being is an explosion of wonder and love. That is, when it’s not a long and somewhat confused slog.

    Merry Christmas, my children, I love you both forever.”.

    This! Wonderful – thank you.

  12. I may just have to buy all these for my son and daughter! At their age I find myself at more lack of direction than when they were younger!

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