Whatever the occasion, everyone likes receiving gifts. As we approach the biggest gift-giving season of the year, it’s good to reflect on gifts that are memorable and special.
For Dr. Pia Chatterjee Kirk, assistant professor of care planning and restorative services in the University of Mississippi’s School of Dentistry, it’s a pre-planning wedding gift that has family and cultural significance.
“After I was born, my maternal grandfather decided he would preplan a gift for my wedding day,” he said. “I was his first grandchild, and he was ecstatic. He had an elaborate gold tiara with beautiful stones made in India. Before he passed away, which was one month after I was born, he asked my grandmother to make sure I wore it on my wedding day.”
Kirk says the significance of the tiara became apparent as he got older. Every time his mother pulled out the tiara to show it to him or let him try it on, it prompted stories about his grandfather.
“She told me the kind of person he was, how he was so helpful to the community, how the house was full on weekends because people just wanted to be close to him, how he had made my mom laugh, how much he loved my dad, and how he wished he could have laid eyes on me before he died,” he said. “There was so much love and sentiment tied up in the tiara.”
Eventually, Kirk proudly wore the cherished tiara on his wedding day. “I am the first in my family to be married outside of India, and in some way the tiara connected not only my grandfather but all of my family in India who could not be in the United States to join in the wedding festivities,” he said. “I was thankful that my grandmother and my parents were here to see me wear the tiara. I hope to be able to pass this heirloom and all the stories that go along with it to the future generations of my family.”
iPod + iTunes = i Luv it
Oxford architect Tom Howorth says anything his employees give him for Christmas is special, but they outdid themselves last year. “They usually give me gift certificates at local restaurants or for clothes and I love that. I love anything they give me,” he said. “They surprise me and I like that. But last year, they gave me an iPod. I guess they thought I needed to get into the swing of things.”
Howorth, who’s been a licensed architect for 21 years, admits to being something of a gadget freak — but not to the extreme. “My employees have to help me stay up to date with the latest thing and they do,” he said.
Devotion to Peter Falk, detective Columbo of the television series, brought about a special gift for Barbara Travis, executive director of the Mississippi World Trade Center.
“As my friends and family know, I’m in love with Peter Falk and adore any Columbo-related gift,” she said. “What most people don’t know is that he is also a very fine artist. One of my all-time favorite gifts is a charcoal drawing he sketched of himself as Columbo. Years ago he was in Jackson for an art exhibit, and my husband drove me to meet him and bought the drawing for me.”
Travis adds that Falk not only personally autographed the drawing for her, but hugged her and had a photo made with her. “The photo and the sketch are two of my prized possessions,” she said.
Don’t forget those birthdays
An unforgettable birthday gift ranks highly in the memory bank of Jasmine Taylor, associate vice chancellor for multicultural affairs at the University Medical Center in Jackson.
“The most surprising gift I ever received was for my 28th birthday, when my husband gave me a present and a stuffed animal every day for a week,” she said. “On my birthday, he hired a singer to accompany him to my office to sing a rewritten version of ‘Tuxedo Junction’ to me. My husband changed the words to describe how we met and how much I meant to him.”
Taylor says her husband chose the song because Tuxedo Junction is a real location in their hometown of Birmingham, Ala.
“It was a very special birthday!” she said.
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at firstname.lastname@example.org.