An Infinitely Awesome Gift

“If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is.”  – John Louis von Neumann


I received the best present ever the other day.

I am the type of person who loves receiving all kinds of gifts because I love giving gifts. I like finding fun, quirky things that I think will make someone smile. I like buying something for someone that they never would have thought to buy for themselves because it’s just too silly. I love finding a completely unique gift that reflects someone’s interests.

I’ve never been into the trendiest or most expensive gifts. I had a fake Cabbage Patch Kid as a child, which was fine by me. I find it odd that people spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on Christmas or even birthday presents. Black Friday is puzzling to me – You punched someone over a Tickle Me Elmo? Seriously?

When my children were born, I decided that I wouldn’t allow birthday presents at their parties. Instead, I asked guests to donate to specific charities. In the first several years of their lives, we collected money or other donations for Hurricane Katrina victims, La Leche League, the shelter for victims of domestic violence, and Manna food bank. I’ve since stopped enforcing the “no present rule” and allow presents as well as donations, but I hope it gave my kids a sense that you can and should appreciate all presents – big or small, expensive or not – because it truly is the thought that counts. I hope it also drove home the hard truth that they are living in a wealthy country and have access to resources that most of the world does not. A sturdy pair of shoes is a valuable gift for much of humanity.

So, if I had to make a list of the best gifts I have received as an adult, the most expensive ones wouldn’t even make the list. Two that I can think of off-hand were a boxed set of 80’s music and a bag filled with an assortment of sparkly nail polish, googly eye stickers, and Lip Smacker. These are the kinds of gifts that people who really know me buy.

I got the best one yet on Saturday.

It came in the mail in a plain brown box.

It wasn’t gift wrapped.

It wasn’t even new.

It was a used copy of Martin Gardner’s revision of Calculus Made Easy by Silvanus Thompson.

Yep. Nick bought me a used book about calculus. Sweet. I am super excited. I started reading it as soon as I got it, but I have the feeling that I am going to want to take notes and perhaps do some additional reading or watching of videos before I get any further along. I mean, it is true that I last took Calculus in 1993, which was when several of our lifters at Asheville Strength were born. I’m sure they are amused by that fact.


I’m just trying to figure out what I can buy Nick that even comes close to being as cool as this damn Calculus book.

Author: Tamara Reynolds

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1 Comment

  1. my best gift in years: when my (then new) partner gave me a bag of very specific pretzels for my birthday that i used to long for but hadn’t been able to find in ages (this was before one could buy just about everything on the internet). nobody at the gathering understood why i was speechless and almost in tears. my partner’s mother scolded because the gift wasn’t properly “romantic”. she couldn’t have been more wrong — it was the most romantic gift ever. my partner grokked that i hate conventionally romantic gifts where “one size fits all”. among all the myriad pieces of data about me, my partner had remembered i really liked these pretzels, missed them, and had given up on ever having them again. my partner, who is generally quite lazy, scoured the city for days to find this bag.

    the best gift of all is a partner who “gets” you.

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