Friday, December 19, 2008

To Wishlist, or Not to Wishlist

“Sir, the shopping list... It's only questions, isn't it?

- It wouldn't tell anyone anything?
- Everything.
It would tell what we know by telling what we "don't" know.
And it would tell what we would most like to know.
If the Sovs get the list, we might as well have published the notebooks, just as Barley promised Dante.”
(John LeCarre, The Russia House)

By way of email, my boyfriend’s secret Santa Clause wish list became known to me. It was surprising because:
a) I didn’t think that anyone except for us perfume bloggers make wish lists anymore
b) It included mostly very useful stuff (which of course, would make whatever list I would have seem over-indulgent).

Wish lists are very revealing. They may reveal what you’re lacking, what you aspire to be, what you know or don’t know (i.e.: the next generation of iPhone), who you are. But this is only one aspect which makes it difficult for me to come up with a wish list.

First of all, things don’t stay on my wish list for long. I either get them right away (more or less) or loose interest in them after a while so they stop being a wish list item even if they appear to be. If you are one of those self-sufficient people who knows how to take care of themselves you know what I mean. Others may interpret this as materialism, but I beg to differ. There is something empowering about knowing what you like, and investing your hard earned money in it, on your own. It makes it a meaningful experience, because you were part of the entire process (including spending your milk money on a much smaller vat, full of flammabale liquids).

Another reason why my wish list has been nearly non-existent: it is one thing to make a list for the sake of making one (I do that all the time, and you’ve been my witness). It’s a defining moment in your own history. Where you are heading, what you aspire to be, what defines you now. Are you a No. 5 or are you a No. 19 now? Are you more into dense vintages or into sparse, airy minimalism? There’s a satisfaction in wanting all those things. But if someone just handed to you your entire perfume wish list on a silver platter, would it be all that wonderful?

Besides, I don’t really want, need or desire anything at the moment. I am actually quite content with what I have (if I can only find a better way to organize all those lovely perfumes though, I’ll be reaching nirvana). I am happy with my collection (not that it is by any means complete) as it serves my double purpose of enjoying perfumes and leaning and studying them. My collection allows me to refer to old classics and new innovations in this useful art form; to draw parallels between creations from the same perfumer, era, or with a focus on the same raw material, etc. I don’t really need to add to or subtract much from it.

Lastly, part of me just likes the idea of surprises, better than gifts. It’s the anticipation. What would it be? And does this person really know me? Can they pick something for me that they’ll know I’d like? So you see, coming up with a list was not an easy task. Especially knowing that someone is actually going to read it and pay attention to it.

And so in return, I thought it was only fair to reveal my list too. Although part of me hopes that if I do get a gift, it would be a surprise. But what can I say, after giving this much thought, I am pretty sure I’ll be very happy to find any of these under my Christmas Tree or Chanuka Bush.

Reluctant to give away my secrets too easily, I decided to leave it up to him to figure out where I keep it. We’ll see how this plan would work out… For now, I hope you will enjoy reading my fragrant little wish list. And please feel free to comment on your opinion of wish lists and the whole idea of giving “hints” to people you know so they can get you what you want.

So, there goes my list (trimmed down only to the bare basics, after getting rid of anything useful such as toolbox for all my scattered hardware, a wooden salad bowl or a bigger-size baking sheets, and an Indonesian hammock stand to replace my ragged couch) and sticking to the superfluous olfactory indulgences only (otherwise my editor would not accept my piece for this blog). Please continue reading the post below if you are remotely interested.


At December 20, 2008 6:33 PM, Blogger Amy said...

I'm like you in that if I want something, I either:
1) buy it for myself immediately
2) plan to buy it for myself during the next sale, b/c there is almost always "the next sale" (this is me practicing delayed gratification and honoring my practical and frugal core)
3) or if something is only a passing fancy, it falls off the list.

Perfumes are my one material splurging category, and it's gotten to the point where no one who knows me would dare buy me perfume! So I end up having to buy it for myself. My now-husband and I haven't exchanged gifts since our first year dating, opting instead for a nice meal out. I did get him a gift this year, though, b/c it was perfect but it's an exception and will be unexpected. No gift "hinting" from either of us, not our style, really.


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