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Confessions of an Almost-Reformed Belated Gift Advocate

             I am not the kind of person who resents it if someone doesnít acknowledge a significant day right on the dayÖI know theyíll get around to it eventually.  Whether itís my birthday, anniversary, Motherís Day, even Christmas, I know the people in my life will mark the occasion.  Maybe itís a card the next day, maybe lunch a month later, or a package from my sister three or four months after my birthday.  Itís a sort of insurance policy against lame birthdays.  If I donít have a particularly fabulous birthday, I know a card from my grandma or a day out shopping while my husband watches the children is forthcoming. 

            Being late with gifts is just how my family works. My sister, whose late gifting is legendary, just sent my husband a birthday card in June.  His birthday was in January.  Both my grandmas gave me my birthday gifts a week after my birthday.  I am just as guilty as the next person in my family for being late with gifts.  Even now, I have a birthday gift for my brother-in-law, a wedding gift for my cousin, and a baby gift for my college friend that are one, two, and three months late respectively, but I am not all that concerned about the lateness of these gifts (at least not concerned enough to have sent the gifts on time in the first place).  I figure when it comes to gifts, better late than never.  I enjoy the oxymoron of an expected surprise gift sometime in the future and I expect I am not the only one who enjoys gifts out of the blue. 

            I know there are dangers in giving gifts late.  Not everyone believes late is great as far as gifts go and donít appreciate the joy of getting a birthday gift in November when the giftable occasion was in May.  The usefulness of 3-6 month baby clothes for a 9-month-old is questionable. (Thatís why I give board books or 18-24 month clothes for babies...I know my weaknesses when it comes to gifts.)  And, sadly I have taken so long to getting around to giving wedding gifts that Iíve lost the coupleís address.  On more than one occasion.  (But hey, if we didnít keep in touch, the friendship was doomed to fade away.)

            But until my birthday two years ago I have firmly believed the pros of late gifts outweigh the negatives.  That particular birthday was 10 days after the birth of my third child and I was having a difficult recovery. It was a crummy day:  I felt awful.  I was sleep deprived.  I was a year older.  My only consolation was a beautiful dark-haired baby girl.  My husband and my mother both wished me happy birthday but said weíd celebrate when I felt better.  (Actually, I believe I burst into tears when my mom called to wish me happy birthday.)  When my sister-in-law showed up out of the blue with a gift card and an Old Navy gift certificate, she helped me to see maybe there is something to remembering a special day on the exact day.  Even though my life was less-than-perfect at the moment, she brought a gift and more important, light to my day.  She showed me she thought about me and remembered me with a gift on my exact birthday.  And it felt great.  Since then, Iíve been more diligent in delivering gifts in time for the special day.

            And believe it or not, Iíve been pretty good at it. Just donít ask my brother-in-law, cousin, or college friend. 

                                                                                                ---sdw 6/11/08