My best friend and I have always been really bad at giving gifts.
Sure, over the past 14 years of knowing each other like the back of our own hand, we've given a lot of things. Hugs. Secret notes. "Get Well" cards when we missed school for being sick. Sand dollars. A lecture from our mothers about daring each other to lick every plant in the yard. Mud-stained shirts. Boy drama. Advice. Reasons to laugh. Reasons to cry. A few reasons to die on the spot, they're so darn embarrassing. But perhaps the most regular thing we've given each other, and with a very special tradition of ineptitude, is gifts.
Birthday, Christmas, vacation souvenirs, you name it -- after more than a decade of friendship, these token items become akin to rote learning in elementary school: just memorize your spelling words to get 'em done. Or at least that's how it seems to turn out with these things. But my friend and I had our own special pattern of when these special days rolled around -- and that was to be terrible gift-givers.
I can't even remember the half of them, but for some reason my bestie and I always fell a little off the mark whenever it came to giving. The virtual pet that I was more excited about than she was (kind of the whole I'll-get-it-for-you-so-I-can-borrow-it type of thing). The pottery wheel she got me because I was artsy that hid in my closet unused. How I often gave her cash when she said she didn't count money as a present. The "best friends" necklace I couldn't wear because it wasn't sterling silver and everything else broke me out in itchy red spots. The lettuce fish she got me from Hallmark after a day of making fun of the ceramic vegetable animals that I forgot (How was I supposed to remember the significance of a lettuce fish, anyway?). The third piece of Sheldon merchandise I happen to own. The candy bar and ponytail holders I gave her for Christmas when I was too depressed to know what would make my best friend happy.
Before you decide whether to condone me or not for this terrible friendship-ery, hold on a minute. My best friend and I are not the poster-children of best friends. Far from it. Although we would look quite adorable on a "Best Friends 'Til The End" poster, especially in our earlier years and with transformation pics included. But for best friends who have survived a backyard tornado, two moves, moms being far away, moms being in a car wreck together, a heartthrob boy at school we both dated, and my terrible, near-decade-long storm of severe depression and anxiety, we've done pretty well. We've given each other a lot over the years, and that "a lot" can't necessarily be put into words, much less a box with a bow tied around it.
So, I hope this makes you think about your own oldest best friend. What kinds of things -- or non-things -- have you given each other over your time together? What makes them special to your special, one-of-a-kind relationship? What makes them like the things others share? What makes them different? What stories and histories are laced around them? Thinking of these things is like digging up a time capsule, a gritty-golden treasure buried amongst the muck and mess of many months and years. Sometimes, breaking out that shovel and map; blowing the dust off the top of the box, off of your shared past; can be as rewarding as the present (haha, get it?) you share.