It’s the holiday season, and one of the ways we show our love and appreciation for those important to us is by the giving of gifts.  Sometimes this can be stressful, as, let’s face it, finding the right gift that will make your loved one’s face light up with joy can be easier said than done.  I’m sure we’ve all agonized over a purchase, the gremlins SHOULD I and SHOULDN’T I perched on each shoulder offering their conflicting opinions.

I remember one time buying a baby bouncy seat for a pregnant friend; it felt like I dithered about for over an hour!  Did I get the one that vibrated, or the one that didn’t.  If I got the vibrating one, would that mean the baby would never fall asleep without the vibrations? If I didn’t get the vibrating one, did that mean the baby would never fall asleep?  Did I get the one with the umbrella thingie, or the detachable toys?  What about the ergonomic one?  (Seriously, have you seen the weird positions babies sleep in?  Ergonomic, schmergonomic. Babies are contortionists.)  By the time I bought the damn seat I was exhausted.

As usual, I digress.  I wanted to talk about gift cards, and whether or not they are the perfect gift for the equestrian in your life, or a cop out designed to make the gift giver feel good about themselves while putting as little thought into the gift as possible.  My mother falls into the second camp. She feels that giving a gift card shows that you didn’t really care to put forth the effort to really please the giftee, that it reflects a lack of care in some way.

I completely disagree.  I think they’re brilliant.  I think they give the giftee complete freedom to go somewhere they like and pick out something that is perfect and meaningful for them.  I hate to shop.  Malls give me the twitches. And hives.  There are only two exceptions to my abhorrence of shopping – tack shops and Barnes & Noble.  I could spend hours in either.  Give me a gift card to Barnes & Noble and I’ll wander around, breathing in the wonderful smell of paper and ink, picking up book after book and reading the synopsis on the dust jackets, laying some aside in a must-have pile and others in the maybe pile.  Giving a book to someone can be a crapshoot, as what you enjoy reading might not be another’s cup of tea.  You may get it right, you may not.  To my way of thinking, giving a gift card means you give the gift of choice, and the ability to take the time to revel in and appreciate the gift.

Same thing applies to gift cards to tack shops.  A gift card to a tack shop means that not only can I go in and wander around to my heart’s content, but I can now look at the Same thing applies to gift cards to tack shops.  A gift card to a tack shop means that not only can I go in and wander around to my heart’s content, but I can now look at the dress sheet/breeches/helmet/halter/blanket/boots/the-list-goes-on and find them more affordable.  Whole new opportunities open up.  Where before I may have only been able to consider necessities (Indy needs a new halter) now I have the option to consider luxuries (maybe that shipping halter I’ve been lusting after). Or at least a wider variety of necessities.  Instead of looking longingly at the Tredstep Symphony breeches, maybe now I can try them on with the intent to actually buy them!

A new safety vest, maybe?

A new safety vest, maybe?

To me, gift cards are magical.  My husband, mother-in-law, and now my mother, give me gift cards and I hold them in my hands with glee, adding them up and formulating my plan of attack when I can get to the post-holiday sales at my favorite tack shops.  I pull out catalogs, leafing through to find the dog-eared pages with the items on my horsie wish list.  The gift card gives me the ability to make the fantasy a reality, and to revel in the process at the same time.  And the ability to smile every time I look at my horse wearing his Horseware turnout, knowing that my loved one’s thoughtful gift helps keep my four-legged baby warm.