Monday, April 14, 2008

Parting Gifts

Today, I decided I had to clean out my desk. I have somewhat co-opted our third bedroom and turned it into an office. When we first moved into our house (in 1980), there were just 3 of us--my husband, me and our son. The smallest bedroom was originally our son's. Then when we were expecting our daughter, we made this small bedroom into a nursery. And it remained our daughter's bedroom until our son moved out of the house, after college. One time, she went storming back into her bedroom, after some "discussion" we were having--she announced: I am going back into that closet you people call a bedroom. Her point being, it is a small room. But it makes a fine office.

Back to the desk. I had sort of let stuff accumulate. So, today was cleaning, pitching and tidying day.

And what should I come upon but these--special cards with various messages on the pink folded cards, each with its own blank insert, save for my name inscribed.

These cards were a parting gift from the time I held a position in our state Department of Health. I left that job in 1993--and I still have most of the pink cards. So, out they go in this cleaning frenzy.

It did make me think about the parting gifts we get when we leave jobs. I have held four different jobs prior to my current part time teaching in a community college. First, I was an instructor in a four year college; then I went to the state medical association; from there to the health department job; then a large health insurance company in our state. At two of those jobs I was feted to a going away honors.

But in each case, the gifts were . . .well-intentioned, but not what I might have picked. At the state medical association, I received a framed commendation from the board of trustees, and a large book called A Day in the Life of America--lots of interesting photos. I looked at it, then shelved it--no idea exactly where it is right now.

At the health department, my secretary arranged a lovely luncheon. I was given two gifts--a silver covered photo album, and the aforementioned note cards.

I don't know what a perfect parting gift might be. At one time the custom was the proverbial gold wristwatch (or maybe even at one time the pocket watch). I have received more clocks than I know what to do with--from having served on various advisory boards.

When I left the health insurance company, some of my employees took me to lunch. One of them gave me an electronic footwarmer! Never used it.

OK--my ruminations on parting gifts are over.

How did the desk cleaning out go? Quite fine, I think.

And the office cat even approves.

Any thoughts on the perfect parting gift?


JeanMac said...

I think if it's a smaller, personal group, maybe a nice picture frame and gift cards.
Corporate - money and a gold watch:)

Ginger said...

What a satisfying task. It looks like a fun desk to work at. :)

Elaine said...

Not sure what the perfect one might be but I have received a treble clef pin from a choir, two china flower thingees, numerous pen sets and coffee mugs (I don't drink coffee)and my all-time least favorite gift, a shiny gold plastic shelf clock with a generic message on a tiny plaque. My name wasn't even on it. Tacky, tacky. After a year of sitting on a shelf in a room I rarely used, out it went and I am happy to have it gone. Even thinking about it now makes me angry so on to happier things.
Love your tidy desk. Think I'll do mine!

Mary said...

Good job, Donna. Looks great.

I'm thinking of parting gifts now - I've left jobs and move away several times. I can't remember many of the gifts but when I left the high school I received a black onyx and gold necklace (school stone) and other pieces of jewelry I've never worn. There are two gifts I see every day - a large coffee mug with "office goddess" imprinted on the front. I keep pencils and pens in it on my desk here at the office. On my nightstand I have an inspirational quote book from a friend. I display a memory book loaded with pictures and mementos given to me from my workgroup at the Dept. of ED in DE when I left.

Most of all, having a nice lunch with friends was the best treat of all. And I have saved all the going-away cards - they're in the bottom drawer of my nightstand. I might look at them the next time I move (hopefully never again!)

possumlady said...

When I left my last job at the National Wildlife Federation waaay back in 1990, I worked in the Environmental Quality division made up of around 10 scientists and lawyers. At that time they had heard many stories about the dinners I would have at my apartment, so they took up a collection and bought me a very large calaphon(sp?) pot. Pretty nice after only working there two years! I also remember gettng a very nice sterling silver bracelet from two of my bosses in the mid-1980s. Receiving a parting gift from the institution you worked for seems to always be impersonal while gifts from your smaller division/department or close co-workers is much more personal and appreciated.

possumlady said...

Oh, and very attractive office cat!

KGMom said...

Jean--I was expecting you to say something tooth related!

Ginger--you know, I do love to reorganize stuff.

Elaine--hi again. The treble clef sounds fine (I take it you love music), but coffee mugs for non-coffee drinkers and generic clocks--no.

Mary--Office goddess? I agree on a nice lunch with colleagues. I too have saved cards, but they weren't in this desk. Hmmm-wonder where they are?

Possumlady--I think you have the best going away gift--something that connects directly to who you are and what you love to do. That's why the pink note cards were so not me--not that I don't keep in touch, but I am so NOT the monogrammed note type person. I never let on, however, to the gift giver.

LauraHinNJ said...

Oftentimes I think the best gift is seeing the smiling faces when you walk out the door for the last time!

I agree tho, the impersonal stuff that one would never use is such a waste of money. It's so much nicer when a gift shows some thought on the part of the giver.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Donna,
I'm envious of your clean desk--Good Job!
I've left several jobs and the only two gifts I still use are a rosemaled, handmade, wooden desktop clock from a friend and a tall, skinny, handmade, wooden Christmas tree that goes by my front door every holiday season. So I guess the consensus here is the only parting gifts I cherish are those that were handmade (something I will think about when I need to give a going-away gift in the future).

Mary C said...

Parting gifts? It seems we are all on the same wave length. My thought was also a really nice lunch out with the department people. As for a corporate gift, I like the idea of a gift certificate to a local place - or even a gift certificate for something like Amazon. That may sound a bit impersonal, too. But, at least, you get to choose your own gift.

KGMom said...

Laura--I agree on the personal touch. That's why the standard clocks have to go!

Ruthie--sounds like you have a keeper clock--your description of it sounds lovely.

Mary C--a woman after my own heart: gift certificates all the way.