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Perspective: Perfect Gift


Ah, it’s December, the holiday season, a time of joyous gift-giving. The sound of holiday music lifts shoppers’ spirits as they hunt down gifts for their family and friends.


I am not one of those shoppers. I hate crowded stores and I’m not happy shopping under pressure, looking for those elusive perfect gifts. Surrounded by all that good cheer, I find myself seized by indecision and what I’ve come to recognize as gift anxiety. I pick something up and put it down again. It always seems wrong, either too big and bold or too small and silly.


When these negative feelings threaten to overwhelm me, I bring up a memory that never fails to lighten my mood. Years ago, I found a distinctive red plaid flannel nightgown that I thought would be a great gift for my mother. In a burst of inspiration, I decided that it would also be the perfect gift for my aunt.


lived 400 miles apart. What could possibly go wrong?


My mother did indeed like her new nightgown, because she packed it for a trip to Massachusetts to visit my aunt later that winter. And my aunt must have loved hers too, because she wore it during that visit.


Even with all that, what are the odds that they would find themselves in the hallway at the exact same moment, both wearing their identical nightgowns? The answer, it turns out, is 100 percent.


It’s a wonderful image that I love to picture. I can almost hear them laughing. Turns out, it was the perfect gift.


Deborah Booth retired in Fall 2014 from NIU, where she was the director of External Programs for the College of Visual and Performing Arts.