Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Books make the perfect gift

I love this discussion about books as perfect gifts. There is an endless variety of them - one for every taste and age and skill - and unlike most useful gifts these days, they won't bankrupt you. In my own family, we have two different traditions. My children and I celebrate Hanukah, but since none of them live in the same city as me and they only get the usual Christmas holiday time off work, we choose one of those days as our family Hanukah celebration. With any luck it falls on an actual Hanukah night, as it does this year, but otherwise we add a "Fradkin's Famous Ninth Night of Hanukah". We have always exchanged gifts on that night.

My extended family - sister, brother, nephews, nieces, and families - all lives in the area and we have been getting together for Christmas dinner since forever. Over the years, the families have proliferated, adding in-laws and next generations, so that now we are quite a big crowd both for Hanukah and Christmas. It's becoming an epic challenge to come up with affordable gifts. So some time ago we turned the Christmas event into a book exchange. It's brilliant. Each of us buys one book, wraps it, and puts it under the tree. When it's our turn to pick, we can choose to steal a book from someone else or take a wrapped one from under the tree. Some books are stolen several times.

This way people usually end up with a book they might at least vaguely want to read. Horsetrading and a lively discussion about each book's merits occur as well. Some books are duplicates, particularly award winners or books with buzz. Current political books are always hot, and there is a varied selection of both fiction and non-fiction.

When the children are small, they get books of their own from each of us, but the teenagers get to participate in the free-for-all.

I always have fun picking the book I plan to contribute, and this year I know exactly what I'm going to buy. Off to my favourite independent bookstore to buy it! I expect it to cause some merriment.


Irene Bennett Brown said...

Most everyone on my list gets a book from me for Christmas, especially our numerous great-grandchildren. I enjoy choosing books as gifts.

Barbara Fradkin said...

So true, Irene. Not only do we set a great example for the children but we also encourage the adults in the family who may have given up reading books to try it again!