Got the Best Birthday Surprise Gift

The other day we got a shipment from Gianni and in it I found the most appreciated and most unexpected birthday gift imaginable.

We had last visited Gianni in Sicily in 2009. When it came time to say goodbye, I realized that I had left the dress shoes I really was going to need for my next meetings back in the hotel room. Because they had already made our room, it took us a long time to locate my shoes, we missed our bus by a minute and Gianni ended up having to take us all the way to Catania, more than two hours away. (Read the full story here).

It turns out that I had lost more that the shoes that day. My wife was loaning her precious 2002 World Cup hat that she bought in Japan when she got to go watch some of the games. This was the only hat that I would wear and I really meant to take good care of it. After our trip, we never saw the hat and thought it was lost for good until it popped out of the box we just opened.

All I can say is: “Thank you!!!” And I have to say that Gianni really has a way to make people like him!

Kewpie Dolls: A Revelation

Kewpie Dolls in Takayama
Kewpie Dolls at the Miyagawa Morning Market in Takayama

I came across these adorable Kewpie dolls at the Miyagawa Morning Market in Takayama, Japan. The dolls were not handmade, but they were wearing little handmade 浴衣(yukata, or a casual version of the kimono)! When I laid eyes upon them, they immediately brought me back to my childhood – I couldn’t remember if I actually owned one, or they were so pervasive back in the day that I just felt like I owned one. I picked one up and showed it to my soon-to-be three year old daughter, hoping she would show some level of interest, leaving me no option but to indulge in her childish desires. Lucky for me, she obliged.

When my husband asked me what it was, I proudly explained to him that Kewpie dolls come from a famous brand of Japanese mayonnaise, called Kewpie Mayonnaise. It was not until I returned home from Japan that I discovered the real origin of Kewpie dolls…

According to Wikipedia, Kewpie dolls were first produced in Germany, based on a cartoon illustration that appeared in the Ladies’ Home Journal in 1909. So it wasn’t the squeeze-tube mayonnaise that made the Kewpie dolls famous after all! Dang, I hate being wrong. Worse yet, I now have to go back and tell my husband that I was misinformed … or, I can just see if he’ll read this blog post.

Reflections on what makes a good gift

In my previous post I talked about how well my friends liked the Aldo leather belt I had gifted to them. They all asked me for an additional one of a different color, exactly what I wished for me.

I suspect that we had a few things in common. Not knowing what their belt collections look like, I can only suspect that most of those belts, like mine, lacked at least one of the following:

  • quality leather
  • inspired design
  • attention to details

I am dissatisfied with my black belt, and will make sure to replace it as soon as possible, but my other belts are OK. Yet, now that I have a belt that is superior to the rest of them, it has become my favorite belt and the one that I reach for every day, except when I need to wear a black belt. The same thing must be going on with my family and friends, and this leads me to this conclusion.

A good gift is a gift that is appreciated. Sometimes such a gift can be something for which we don’t feel a need until we experience it.

A Dionigi Belt is a Great Gift for Him

Last year we added Vincenzo’s Italian leather belts to our line up. I named my favorite model after my maternal grandfather, Aldo, and made sure to get one in espresso to use both with my jeans and with my brown slacks.

I also gave it as a gift to one of my friends and to two relatives.

It did not take long for me to wish to have a black one as well. Every time I wear my non-Italian-leather, non-handmade black belt it feels really cheap and it has gotten to a point that it is rubbing off on my pants. I will for sure get a black Dionigi belt by Vincenzo on the next gift opportunity. Maybe for Father’s Day.

What really struck me was how every one of the three people to whom I gifted the Aldo belt, complimented me on its quality and asked for another one of a different color. I had never experienced such enthusiastic reception for any of my gifts. More on this in my next post.

The Aldo Italian leather belt. So far, 100% of my gift recipients liked it and asked for more.