Sunday, December 11, 2011

The best gifts are hard to wrap...

Gifts are great! They can be pretty, fun, practical, yummy, wonderful things. They can meet a need, provide joy, encourage, delight, amuse... They can also be a hard tangible representation of something else. A book can reflect an interest shared. A toy can invite play. A tool can promote competence and independence. Slippers may communicate care and comfort.

Several stamp collectors have variously, over time, shared with me a moment in their collecting that was critical to encouraging and/or deepening their genuine interest in this hobby. None of these moments involved "stuff" -- all of them involved an adult they respected interacting in a way that validated or encouraged or challenged them. In each instance, their interest was taken seriously and they were treated as another collector, not a child.

The time and attention and respect of another human being is the best gift for a beginning collector. Hopefully, as this blog grows, we can use it to connect beginners with those who can provide this wonderful gift.

Meanwhile, if you want to send a gift to your grandchildren to invite them to share your joy of stamp collecting, I think any of various choices previously mentioned will wrap well and be pretty under the Christmas tree. But the real gift will be impossible to wrap.

Which brings to my mind a scene near the end of the movie, "The Electric Grandmother", (based on Ray Bradbury's short story). As the grandmothers sit and rock and reminisce, Maureen Stapleton's character remarks, "Sometimes I forget the difference between love and paying attention."


  1. Very well said. We keep racking our brains about how to attract people to the hobby, but I think this is really the best way to do it.

  2. Thanks, Sandy. I'm happy to find your blog "The Reluctant Philatelist" and the wonderful story from October of sharing your hobby with your 13-year-old friend.