A story about squee, and other reactions to gifts

“Your reaction was priceless.”

That’s what my flatmate told me yesterday about Geoffery’s Grand Reveal. It’s the kind of reaction we all hope a gift will induce- especially a handmade gift.

Maurice Sendak was once asked about the greatest compliment he’d ever received about his work. He told this story:

“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”

The reaction we get isn’t always the one we expect. Mostly, the reaction will suit the thought we’ve put into the gift. But then there are the times where a gift gets ignored, or used the wrong way- for example the story a knitter told about knitting a hat for her boyfriend, who used it and treasured it…as a tea cosy.

Sometimes our love and thought is thrown away. It doesn’t mean the love and thought is wasted, because in putting it into the world, little by little we make the world a better place. That’s what I think, anyway.

And note, it really is the thought, not the cost. A book found in a charity shop can be as much loved as a diamond ring.

All we can do is choose our gifts with love, and hope for the best. This, by the way, is still my favourite reaction to a gift I’ve ever seen:

May all your gifts this year score an 11 🙂