You want to know how I know she loves me? My mom called and inquired whether a Challenge Griffo cyclocross tire should be size 700x34 or 700c x 34mm. She listened to my explanation of what the “c” and “mm” meant in relation to the dimensions of the tire. Even if faned, she seemed interested. She’s a retired nurse. Having administered plenty of medication, she’s no stranger to the metric system and cubic centimeters. Even though it may’ve killed the Christmas Day surprise, I almost appreciate her effort more that the gift itself. Obviously mom loves me way more than people she purchased gift cards for. I’m real present worthy and they’re just gift card relatives.
Giving a gift card is like saying I’m not interested in your life enough to get you the dorky thing you really want. That’s why I’d rather get a real gift than a gift card. Gift cards are like saying TMI. I know you’re into bikes, but that’s where I’m drawing the line. Here’s a gift card to Performance. You do the work.
There is an exception. The only time I like getting a bike gift card, is when it opens a little window to my life, like getting a gift certificate to my local bike shop, BioWheels, the shop I race for. They have Bio-bucks. Like getting a Challenge Griffo tubular, a Bio-Buck certificate from my mom says, “I know you race for BioWheels. I know you prefer to have your sponsor’s parts on your bike. I called and talked to Mitch the owner. He’s a nice guy and seems like a good friend of yours.” It's a gift with a story. That’s a real present. It shows interest in my life.
Real presents bring people together. Last year my mom asked for a specific kind of water color painting paper. I went to 2 different art stores. I talked to the bearded hippie clerk. Thanks to her, I now know that a block of 200 pound water color paper does not weigh more than me. I got a taste of my mom’s hobby and she got a taste of mine. Now, I lean in a little more when she tells me about the challenges of her painting class. I can see how the paper and paint work together when she shows me a painting of downtown Cedarburg, Wisconsin. In turn, at age 65, she learned a little bit about cyclocross.
The other great thing about getting a cyclocross tire for Christmas is that I can oogle it on the couch. Try that with a gift card. I’ll show the tire off to my science nerdy 3rd grade nephew and bore the little guy with a grand story of how fast I can ride my bike in mud. Maybe I’ll show him a picture of me racing from my phone. I’ll show him how the big knobbies can grab and hang on to a surface. I'll tell him it was hand made in Belgium. Maybe I'll point it out on a map. I'll ask him to go ahead and touch the soft cotton sidewall, roll it across the couch cushions and explain how the cotton bends to follow the contour of the cushions. He’ll be thrilled…for at least 3 minutes, a priceless 3 minutes of closeness with family.