December 11th, 2019
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Rhys Bowen | The Perfect Gift


Are you like me, shopping for the perfect gift at this time?

Every year I try for that special gift that nobody dared to ask for but had been dreaming of. This kind of experience has happened to me a few times in my life and I know how magical it feels. I remember the Christmas when transistor radios had just been invented (okay, I realize I am dating myself ) and I longed for one. But my parents were giving me the train ticket to a friend’s wedding as my Christmas gift. Besides, transistor radios were a big deal when they first came out and certainly not cheap. So I didn’t even ask for one.

Then on Christmas morning I went through my stocking—okay, I know I was a teenager but I still liked my stocking—and came across a battery. What a strange thing, I thought. What could I possible want a battery for? Then I felt hope and amazement flooding through me. It couldn’t be, could it? Not possibly… I went through the rest of the stocking and there at the very bottom was the transistor radio. I still tear up when I think about it now.

The other best present I ever witnessed was at a friend’s fiftieth birthday. A huge box was wrapped and in the middle of the floor. When she opened it out stepped her daughter who had flown in secretly from Florida.

My best achievement to date, I believe was when Phantom of the Opera came to San Francisco. Tickets were impossible to get but we went down to the theater and found we could buy the stage box, because it was partially obscured view. So we did. I made fancy invitations for each of our four children. They said, “I request the honor of your presence at an evening of music and mayhem.

Formal wear required. It was signed Your friend, the Phantom.

It was wonderful watching their faces—that same disbelief, hope, amazement and then realization. They put on full evening dress—my teenage son black tie and top hat, my girls long gowns—and swept out looking majestic. And the stage box turned out to be brilliant—so close to the stage that it was like being part of the story.

So that’s what I strive for. My granddaughter Meghan is very into Harry Potter. Last year I found a box made like an old trunk. In it I put a wand, a book of spells and made a cloak. Then I wrote her a letter saying, “Congratulations Meghan. You have been accepted into the Sonoma school of witchcraft and wizardry.” Then I gave her a list of things she’d need, school rules and the trunk. She was thrilled.

So I’m really against taking the easy way out and giving gift certificates or money. Even if a gift isn’t perfect it really is the thought that counts. To me a gift represents someone thinking of me warmly, deciding what might make me happy and then wrapping it for me with love. So it’s actually a box of love I’m receiving. My mom thought that I loved flowery patterns for about twenty years after I really did, but she was so sure she’d found me the perfect gift that I never told her.

My husband is impossible. If he wants something, he goes out and buys it, even three days before Christmas. He never wants clothes. He owns every type of electronic gadget in the universe. And he’s not getting a Lexus under the tree like the commercial! So I’ve just about given up on him. I tend to stick to a trip, a theater some kind of experience that he might not have thought of for himself. But I keep hoping that one day I’ll come up with that ultimate surprise for him too.

How about you? What are your gift giving thoughts?

Rhys Bowen

Now blogging at and

Click here to leave a comment on Rhys Bowen's blog.




16 comments posted.

Re: Rhys Bowen | The Perfect Gift

I'm by no means as imaginative as you. That could be why I'm not a writer yet. lol I do knit, though, and try to come up with presents that the recipient couldn't come up with in a store. I make sure it's in their favorite color, of course, and always make sure the pattern is fancy if it's for a female. To date, I've never seen anyone disappointed with their present. My favorite is making baby items, because they're so darn cute!!
(Peggy Roberson 9:55am December 4, 2010)

Man, you are creative -- I'm not... but if you know what that person enjoys, it is easier. One year I got a new slalom waterski -- in Indiana... but I slept with that thing til we put the ske boat in the water!
(Cate Sparks 1:41pm December 4, 2010)

My hubby would go shopping on Christmas Eve and end up with
more stuff for himself than those he was shopping for. I guess
that will happen when you only go once a year.
(Lisa Richards 3:19pm December 4, 2010)

I used to hate the idea of giving "gift cards". I always wanted to give my family members the perfect gift. I wanted them to know that I put a lot of thought into their gifts. However, as everyone is getting older and moving away, it is difficult to know what everyone wants. I think I will make some beautiful cards for my family and give them [gasp] a gift cards:(.
(Robin McKay 4:52pm December 4, 2010)

I love shopping for Christmas. I actually shop all year & buy when I do see the perfect gift.
(Mary Preston 5:06pm December 4, 2010)

Dear Ms Bowen, I love, love, your Molly books, & now I'm almost through the Royal Spyness books! You would certainly be a fun friend & family member to have. I'm like you in that I try to listen for that off remark about a wish that someone would like. One Christmas we bought our granddaughter a joke gift of a gallon jar containing dill pickles (she loves them or did before she had all those to eat). Then in a large box we put a camera that she'd also wished for, way at the bottom. Of course she had to wade through a ton of papers to get to the prize. Lots of fun! And yes, husbands are tough in the gift department..mine could be a clone of yours!! :) lol Thursday was my birthday & my daughter-in-law said " Oh, she'd forgotten that it was my birthday. Everyone come on over to their house she'd pick up hamburgers at McDonald's"! Now, it was a rather big milestone BDay for me, but I thought "So we'll be together". Well, I arrived to find family, friends, in a party decorated house! Then I received little gift bags with strange gifts! Net scrubbies "so I'd always be clean!", socks that my feet "would always be warm", batteries that I'd have energy like "that energizer bunny", & my favorite cookie "to keep me happy"! Then out came a bigger gift bag (after the laughs had died down). I was a little leary by this time :). But it was a "wished for treat"! A Kindle! Yes! And I was surprised & pleased, to say the least. My whole family had been conspiring for over a month to pull this party off. A fun & great time was had by all, especially me! I do love surprises!! Merry Christmas
(Jean Merriott 5:09pm December 4, 2010)

I shop like Mary Preston, if I see something I believe someone would like I buy it. The only problem is remembering where I hid it.
(Linda Pillow 5:32pm December 4, 2010)

I'm sorry to say I have no imagination so depend on those around me to leave me lists, then I pick what to get from there.
(Diane Sadler 10:09pm December 4, 2010)

I try not to get into exchanging gifts with as few people as possible. I do an enormous amount of buying online and having things delivered. I'm handicapped and don't feel well if I try to go out into the stores for any length of time, my back gives out, and I'm ina neck coller right now.
My hubby is laid off and I try not to spend a lot, if I don't shop, I don't spend.
(Brenda Rupp 11:05pm December 4, 2010)

The perfect gift is one that's available if people make time to be around you. Their presence is enough to satisfy me. I have a friend who gave gifts sporadically year-round without paying attention to birthdays or holidays. I think she made exceptions for births and weddings, since they are not so prevalent. Thinking long about the person in mind, yields the most chance they may appreciate your choices.
(Alyson Widen 2:51pm December 5, 2010)

The holidays drive me crazy because I always want to get the
best gifts for everyone, but except for my daughters, most of
my family are kind of hard to shop for. I never know what to
get them, especially my mom.
(Margay Roberge 4:00pm December 5, 2010)

I love the holidays and the hunt for the perfect gift for all on my list some I make ( I quilt) some are gifts to fit the person just right and some are gift cards cuz thay are hard to shop for but I still love the hunt.
(Vickie Hightower 4:56pm December 5, 2010)

For our grandchildren my husband and I usually buy books and also send a check to add to their College Accounts. Our 4 grandchildren range in age from 2-5 so it makes shipping a little easier (PS - the post office has a special book rate so the cost is low). We are also having a "family reunion" at Myrtle Beach for everyone to get together since they are spread from Rhode Island to South Carolina that we are covering the cost on so everyone can just come and enjoy each other. This is definately going to be a no stress Christmas and the trip is alreay paid for so no need to worry about bills coming in later!
(Jeanne Miro 4:56pm December 5, 2010)

Love your books and especially the Lady Georgie books. I started with your Evan Evans books and have kept all of them.
(Sherry Moran 6:21pm December 5, 2010)

I try and give home made gifts every year as I love to put myself into each gift. I also want to wish you a quick recovery after your fall. I hope this will not dampen your Christmas spirit. Merry Christmas. susan Leech
(Susan Leech 10:55pm December 5, 2010)

sorry about your mishap in the parking lot. Better times to come. Great books!
(Nancy Swern 1:25pm December 6, 2010)

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