The holiday season is an excuse to participate in a longstanding and, I believe, very civilized tradition of giving thoughtful, simple (while predictable) gifts in appreciation to those people who do something special for you throughout the year. A doctor or teacher or tutor. The person who delivers your newspaper, or groceries or bread. The doorman. A babysitter.
A few things we gave this year include….
A small chocolate – in the form of a piano note – from a local candy shop for my daughter’s piano teacher. (It broke upon arrival to our lesson. It’s the thought that counts, right?)
A donation for a class gift card for my daughter’s 3rd grade teacher and my son’s preschool staff.
A few things we received this year include….
A tin of homemade cookies from a friend so thoughtfully left on my porch as a thank you for attending our holiday party.
A Starbucks gift card from my husband’s patient.
But the most memorable gift we received came from our time living and working abroad in Italy. My husband, who works in healthcare, always received numerous gifts during Christmas from his Italian patients. (A bigger custom there than we experience here). He received a variety of very thoughtful gifts, while a few crossed over to the
strange creative category and are hard to forget.
Bottles of local Italian wine. Not strange….Wonderful….
A Ceramic Serving Dish. Still very good….
A Game Hen.I presume killed and plucked by patient. Instructed to give to the wife (Me.). Okay, starting to enter the strange zone. Perhaps patient lived on a farm. What do I do with a hen, I thought?
And drum roll please……the most memorable gift goes to…..
A Pack of Cigarettes. Chesterfield to be exact. While I am thankful for this occurrence for the amount of times I have used this story at a dinner party over the years, in reality, many Italian doctors my husband worked with were smokers. While we appreciated and loved the pure irony and comedy of the idea of Giving Cigarettes to a Healthcare Provider for Christmas, we still can’t understand why others there didn’t.