Today we’re bringing you another round of He Said/She Said. These posts are really your chance as readers to hear how discussions (and sometimes disagreements) play out when managing our lives with each other. For a look at some of the past He Said/She Said discussions – check ‘em out here.
We’re smack in the middle of gift-giving season in the PoP household, that roughly three month period from October through the end of the year in which we cram the vast majority of birthdays on both sides of our families and then close it out with Christmas. It’s a doozy of a season, and when you combine it with all the organizing we’ve been up to lately, finding the right gifts for our family is definitely at the top of our minds.
But what is the right gift? For us, that’s something that the recipient wants, needs, and will value… while also keeping an eye toward our own budgetary needs and values. But that’s not always an easy balance to achieve. Especially when some of the worst gifts at the time, can turn out to be some of the best with enough time and reflection.
So without further adieu, here are the best worst presents we’ve ever received.
Oh man, I still wince about this!
I was heading back to college after taking a year off for travel, and my parents were acting like my birthday that year (21) was a big one. In retrospect, I’m not sure what I was hoping for, but when Mom and Dad gave me a Ryobi 18-Volt Tool Combo Kit I was less than thrilled.
Make that dejected.
Up until that point I had been able to “borrow” Dad’s tools for as long as necessary, and saw no particular reason to halt this practice, much less use up a perfectly good birthday gift on a toolset. It was right up there with getting socks and a tie for christmas – way too grown up.
A decade (!) later, the Ryobi set has traveled the continent with me, working on no fewer than 5 various apartments, duplexes and homes, along with a few miscellaneous roofs and additions over the years. It gets a new battery pack every 3 years, and the tools work like new. I’m not sure if it qualifies as “buy it for life,” but I think it has gotten more use and saved me more time and money than any other tools that I own.
So Mom, Dad, sorry for the sour face when I unwrapped the Ryobi set all those years ago, I just didn’t understand what a great present it really was!
I was probably 9 or 10 years old that Christmas, and was the youngest (and smallest!) of three kids. That day, my parents had a surprise for us all. The first present we were allowed to open was a small package with all three of our names on it. My sister ripped it open and inside was a piece of paper.
Sidenote – Yes, it would have been an awesome best worst present if this was a stock certificate for the recently IPO’d Starbucks (SBUX) that since then has returned a CAGR of about 25%. But it wasn’t.
It was a clue. My parents had organized a scavenger hunt for us to find our “big” presents. A half dozen clues led us around different parts of the house and yard as a family and the final clue led us to the storage shed in our backyard. Opening the shed doors, my brother, sister, and I faced two fully-assembled brand new 7-speed bicycles.
You read that right. 3 kids faced 2 new bikes.
The tag on one said “Big Sis”, the other read “Big Bro”, and it was only after a few seconds that I found a box about the size of a child’s shoe box with my name on it. It contained a can of spray paint, that I would get to use to turn the bike my sister had outgrown and no longer needed into my own.
I’m not gonna lie, I hated memories of that Christmas for a long time. The presentation of the three “new” bikes could probably have been improved and my parents long ago admitted they hadn’t thought much about the optics of the situation, especially not from a 3rd grader’s perspective.
But 20-someodd years later, I see that as one of the many times that my parents showed that “new to you” can still be a ton of fun and that “function” matters a heck of a lot more than “form” most of the time. Because when it came down to it, I really did love my “new” bike (with its awesome 1970’s banana seat and DIY early 90’s paint job – sky blue with a sea green sponge paint finish, oh yeah!). I thought I was way cooler than I actually was.
What’s the best worst gift you’ve ever received? Or given?