One of my favorite Christmas presents this year was this butter dish.
I received many wonderful gifts for Christmas, and point of this post is not to minimize any of them, but to highlight something important about gift-giving.
This butter dish actually fails several of the tests of what is usually considered a good gift.
It's inexpensive. That's not to say the giver was cheap, as this was only part of my Christmas present, but even had it stood alone it would have been a welcome gift. Sometimes the monetary value of a gift does indeed matter; sometimes it's important to hear from someone we love, "you are more important to me than a giant TV." But more often than not, the true value of an item is surprisingly price-independent.
It's practical. Actually, that's a plus for me, though some people scoff at useful gifts.
It was something I'd asked for. I can't shake the idea that the best presents are those that flow from the heart of a person who knows you well enough to see a need or a desire and present it to you as a gift, especially if it's something you can't or won't buy for yourself. Sometimes that still happens, but these days we most often don't know each other well enough, because our lives are so scattered.
I could have bought it myself. Let's be honest: if it's something we want that's affordable, most of us just buy it ourselves rather than hope someone gets it for us at the next appropriate occasion.
Why am I so excited about this butter dish? Because it was perfect. It was just what I wanted and had gone without for a long time. I have two butter dishes that are exactly like this in all but color—and the fact that the tabs on the ends broke off long ago, rendering them frustrating to use. I'd looked for replacements on and off for years, and what I found was too fancy, too expensive, too ugly, or otherwise just not right. Finally, this one showed up in an Amazon search one day. It was close to Christmas so I put it on my wish list, and at Christmas my hope was realized. This morning, as I unloaded it from the dishwasher and put it in its place, looked at that modest butter dish and felt a thrill of delight.
That's what we hope all our gifts will do.