John W. Pinkerton

Maybe my preference for giving over receiving goes back to my fifth birthday.  Mother arranged a birthday party inviting kids from the neighborhood.  Dad, apparently, thought boxing gloves would be a great gift for his little boy.  Unfortunately, when they put the gloves on my hands, they also put the gloves on the hands of a neighbor boy; the neighbor boy beat the crap out of me.

Perhaps the boxing gloves incident is what has caused me to enjoy the giving part much more than the receiving part.    Americans in general  are gift givers.  There’s no doubt about that.  We give gifts at Christmas, on birthdays, marriage anniversaries, Valentine’s day, wedding showers, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day, et cetera.  

Before I was married, I don’t think I ever gave anyone a gift other than at Christmas time.  But being married ups the ante of gift giving.  Fortunately or unfortunately, most of my gift giving is bunched into one part of the year.  It starts with Christmas (December 25), followed by Linda’s birthday (January 13), followed by Valentine’s Day (February 14), followed by our anniversary (May 30).  If you’re married, its a good idea to not forget any of these occasions.

Christmas is fun.  For me this is the easy one although I often get it wrong.  Let’s take a moment to praise the internet for making gift purchases much easier, especially by men. is a blessing.  They handle everything from electronics to books to jewelry.  I take great pleasure in perusing the cornocopia of goodies presented by this site.  It’s kinda the Sears & Roebuck of the Twenty-first Century. 

I have to admit that my Christmas purchases for Linda have become pretty formulaic over the years (42 to be exact): some kind of electronic device, some kind of jewelry, she loves puzzles, and something out of the ordinary.  The jewelry is easy.  She doesn’t wear earrings, she’s not really big on rings, so I’m left with brooches and necklaces.  She is also a big fan of cats.  Put the two together and you get cat brooches and necklaces.  It’s amazing how many variations of cat  brooches and necklaces there are.  Puzzles are relatively easy to choose in Linda’s case.  Once again cats come in to play.  There are some great cat puzzles out there.  Nostalgia puzzles are good too.  Now the electronics are a lot tougher.  Cameras have been a big hit with Linda at Christmas.  It all started years ago when she said she wanted a camera.  I bought her the cheapest camera made in America.  Several thousand dollars worth of film and processing later, I was convinced she was really going to use her camera.  I bought her a great Minolta 35 mm camera, really nice.  Then along came digital cameras.  I didn’t hesitate.  I bought her the very best Sony digital camera with a great huge lens.  She then saw a need for a smaller camera.  Again I bought her a Sony digital camera, pink,  for her purse.  Other electronics have been a little trickier.  The worst received gift was a sixteen-speed blender.  Note to anyone out there who is married or think they may ever marry: married ladies do not consider something to work with as a legitimate gift.  One year I bought her a flash drive, pink, not a hit.  Another year I bought her an Ipod, pink, not a hit.  Last year I bought her a Kindle, not pink; although she’s a great reader, the jury is still out on this gift.  I may have bought the one that is too large for her.  Her first comment was that it was pretty heavy.  Hand held electronic games and word puzzles have been received okay, but most of these, I must admit, are pretty cheesy.  As for something out of the ordinary, I haven’t been a great success when purchasing these gifts; it will probably end up being more jewelry, not cat related.

Linda’s birthday comes only 19 days after Christmas.  I usually try to purchase something for her birthday while I’m doing my Christmas shopping.  As a matter of fact, a couple of years I bought her Christmas, birthday, Valentine’s Day, and anniversary gifts while I was Christmas shopping on line.

I tried to be inventive on Valentine’s day for several years: I finally gave up.  Now I automatically go to the local florist and order a nice bouquet of flowers.  The only thing that has changed through the years is the price of the bouquet.

By the time we reach our anniversary in May, I’m pretty much gifted out.  She’s lucky to get anything.  I have a tendency to forget until it’s too late, but she always remembers me with something I suspect is intended to embarrass me.

It becomes increasingly difficult to buy appropriate gifts for folks as they get older.  If I want something, like most older folks, I buy it for myself; gift givers are left with a pretty crappy list of things to choose from.  I only have a couple of things in which I’m truly interested: golf and painting; therefore, I get a lot of golf balls, great; but if you’re a golfer, you also get some of the stupidist items one can imagine like automatic putting ball returners, fuzzy golf house shoes (sorry, Shelby), various training aids (which never help), golf gloves (which never fit), sponge golf balls, plastic practice balls, plastic putting greens, golf brushes, hitting mats, golf towels, golf key chains, golf repair tools, and on and on.  Frankly I don’t need a lot of accessories to my golf clubs which I throw in the car and drive to the course without ceremony.  I think the best golf related gift I ever received was a jar of sand from the  “Road Hole bunker” at St. Andrews which a young friend of mine who played there stole.  As for the art related gifts, a good friend of mine, Sidney, gives me a gift card to Hobby Lobby each year for me to purchase art supplies.  She spends way too much money on my gift, but I still spend it.  It relieves some of the guilt I feel for spending so much on my art.  I really need to do some more paintings for her.    A gift I recently received from a long-time friend, was a book which he had published which included all the art work I had given him and his wife through the years.  Of course, these paintings were given before I became a semi-pro artist.

Another long-time friend, Lynda, gives me yard related items.  It’s true that I have a yard, but for me it’s just the space between the house and the street.  She really buys some neat yard stuff; much of it goes in a closet, but some of it goes on what I call “Lynda’s Tree.”  Wind chines, bird houses, et cetera.  Last Christmas she bought me four really nice solar powered yard lights; I’m still trying to figure how to incorporate them into her tree.  She knows that most of these items go in the closet, but she keeps on buying them.  It’s become a joke between us.  That’s probably the best part of her presents.

Linda handles most of the gift giving.  She even has a gift closet that she fills throughout the year with possible gifts for friends and relatives.  It really comes in handy at times.  At Christmas Linda’s gift list usually has fifty to sixty folks on it.  As for me, my main gift buying is for Linda; however, there are a few of the guys I choose gifts for mainly to help her out.  In recent years I’ve published via Apple art books of my paintings which make pretty neat gifts.  This year, I think I’ll publish calendars featuring my art: they’re cheaper.

My best Christmas ever occurred when I was about eight or nine.  We were living in Arkansas at the time.  I got a twin pair of cap guns with a holster for Christmas.  And it snowed heavily that year, a foot or more.  I remember playing in the snow shooting up bad guys.  Christmas was never better.   I wonder whatever happened to those cap guns.  Actually, I wonder what happened to a lot of the gifts I’ve received through the years.

As I said, giving is better than receiving.



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