I just read a fascinating post over at Asia Vu about how gift-giving in Korea is a little different from what we’re used to. The Koreans take a very practical approach and so it’s perfectly normal to give toilet roll or laundry detergent as a house-warming gift, or rice as a participation gift.
And I found myself thinking, how very useful indeed – wouldn’t that take a lot of the stress out of selecting a gift? Especially when you’re buying a present for someone you’ve never met before, like I was yesterday.
LB got invited to a party – his first that was in no way connected to his big brother – and, though I didn’t know the mum, the child, or any of the guests for that matter, taking him along seemed the right thing to do.
I popped into our local Early Learning Centre to buy a gift and went through my usual conundrum of finding something that was age/gender appropriate, wouldn’t drive the parents crazy, wouldn’t cause injury and cost enough so I wouldn’t look stingy but wasn’t overly expensive.
If we were in Korea, I perhaps could have bought a pack of diapers from the supermarket – not only easy peasy, but also guaranteed to be useful.
Anyway, this morning as we were getting ready for the birthday brunch, it became clear LB had gotten out of bed on the wrong side. He wasn’t happy at all. We managed to navigate the getting dressed part (which can take 20 minutes or more as he rejects all the outfits I pull out), but the tantrum trigger turned out to be which car we took.
“You’ll get cake,” I told him, to bribe a kicking-and-screaming LB to get into the car he didn’t want to ride in.
And so perhaps it was my fault that when we arrived, he made a beeline for the three-tiered, homemade cake and refused to move.
So much for meeting other mums – I had my work cut out for much of the party guarding the cake to make sure LB didn’t start devouring the frosting.
But, despite his unsociableness today (which really made me wonder why on earth I’d bothered to bring him), we did manage to make an impression. The moment LB had been waiting for arrived – Happy Birthday was sung and the cake was cut. In his excitement, LB ran over – at the last second taking a tumble and crashing headlong into the cake table.
The cake wobbled precariously. The mum who’d lovingly made it diplomatically carried on cutting slices, while I scooped up LB and peered at the bump on his forehead.
Thank goodness, the cake didn’t go flying – and thank goodness they didn’t open our present later to find a pack of diapers.