Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Gift of Paying Attention (Mary Strand)

Christmas is coming for those who, like me, celebrate ... or who simply like parties and cookies and brightly lit houses up and down the street.  It also brings with it, for better or worse, the topic of gifts.

Like my mom before me, I do virtually all of the Christmas shopping in our house.  Unlike my mom, I also shop for gifts for myself and hand them to my husband to wrap, in order to make sure there’s SOMETHING decent for me under the tree.  Looking back, I’m guessing my mom was probably disappointed every year.  I take action.

(My daughter’s Christmas wish list at age 12 included the following:  "Clothes (to be picked out by ME but also you can do some guessing IF IT IS GOOD)."  Hey, I understand!)

The best gift I ever received?  NO idea, but mostly I remember that, long after I grew up and flew the coop, my mom bought me a gorgeous sweater for Christmas every year.  It was the only gift I really looked forward to, because she knew my taste in clothes and colors and fit, and I think she aced it every year but one.  It wasn’t really the sweaters, though.  It was the fact that she paid attention in order to find a gift I’d love.

Speaking of gifts I'd love...
The thing is, whether at Christmas or any other time, the best gifts don’t have to be big or expensive.  I still remember the time a friend bought a Corona and set it in front of me but pretended he’d gotten it for someone else.  The moment I saw the Corona label, I knew he bought it for me.  If I’m having a beer, I drink Corona, and no one else in my crowd does.  He paid attention.  It was as insignificant and significant as that.

In my novel Being Mary Bennet Blows, a guy named Josh hands Mary a Diet Coke.  At the Mall of America.  As a Minneapolis chick who knows the MOA like the back of my hand, I can tell you that the MOA has a Pepsi contract, so only a couple of places in the entire mall sell Coke products.  (I cherish them!)  Mary Bennet drinks Diet Coke — always.  When Josh gets a Diet Coke for her, Mary thinks it’s no big deal, but her sisters realize that he must like her.  Why?  He paid attention to what she drinks and went out of his way to find it.

For me, the best gifts simply show that you pay attention.  If you pay attention, you’ll give me milk chocolate, not dark.  White wine, not red.  (But not chardonnay!)  Yellow roses, not red.  Hugh Jackman, not Brad Pitt.  Books and movies with happy endings, not sad ones.

Or maybe a bottle of Corona.

* * *

Hey, since we’re talking gifts, and my life involves a lot of music, here’s my gift to you:  links to six songs (since it’s the sixth of December) that I LOVE, in no particular order.

1.  Tomorrow Never Came”: Lana Del Rey and Sean Ono Lennon (who sounds eerily like his dad; beautiful song)

2.  "Cake by the Ocean": DNCE (always makes me wanna dance!)

3.  Read My Mind”: The Killers (a band I played in did this song, and I loved it so much that I referred to it in my novel Livin’ La Vida Bennet)

4.  A Dios le Pido”: Juanes (the first song of his that I discovered, and part of the most perfect album I’ve ever heard in any language: Un Día Normal)

5.  Please Remember Me”: Rodney Crowell (my favorite singer/songwriter; wistfully sweet song)

6.  All I Want for Christmas Is You”: Mariah Carey (because a December list of my fave songs should include a Christmas song, and I love this one)

Whatever holiday(s) you do or don’t celebrate, enjoy!

Mary Strand is the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras and three other novels in the Bennet Sisters YA series. You can find out more about her at marystrand.com.

 

14 comments:

  1. Excellent advice. We live in a world where listeners are in short supply.

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  2. Handing you a virtual bottle of Corona as a thank you for writing this post :)

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  3. I agree--it really is the thought that counts. One of my best Valentine's Day gifts was a hair dryer, because mine just died and my husband noticed. :-)

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    1. Yes! That's so sweet. I love it when people notice.

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  4. You know, this is so, so true. I kinda feel that way about birthdays--just someone remembering the date and getting a "Happy birthday." That's all it takes to make me very happy. ;)

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  5. Hooray for mothers who pay attention! Great post and thanks for the playlist gift.

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    1. Thanks, and you're welcome! I actually listened to a few of the songs on the playlist last night! :-)

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  6. Great advice and great tunes, Mary! You've included some of my favorites!

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    1. Thanks, Jen! But except for "All I Want for Christmas," I was trying to be obscure! :-)

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  7. I wait for the new Christmas song by The Killers every year. It rarely disappoints!

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    1. Oooh! I didn't know they did Christmas songs. Must search! I'm going to their concert here in Minneapolis in January.

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