Gracie loves gifts

Columnist for The Daily Collegian, Gracie Carella, illustrates the art of giving.

I’ve always been a giver.

Giving gifts and words of affirmation have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. In elementary school, when the infamous Rainbow Loom took over the U.S., I gifted my family members bracelets, necklaces and keychains made of brightly colored elastics.

In middle school, I slid Christmas and Valentine’s Day cards through the slots of the lockers. In high school, I sent little stuffed animals with notes to my friends who were in college and dropped 100 little clay frogs off to my friends who were still at home.

Once I got to college, I sent even more stuffed animals, handwritten notes and little edible arrangements to those back home. Needless to say, the post office in State College got to know me very well — by name.

Putting aside the clay frogs, chocolate-covered strawberries and handwritten notes, books have always been my favorite gift to give.

I find it special to translate the meaning and beauty of a written work to someone you love. Walking through bookstores, I’m always on the prowl for books for myself, but I always end up leaving with books I imagine my friends and family would like.

One of my favorite books I've given was about the psychology of possibility. The recipient was a friend from high school whom I always engaged with in the most interesting and mind-twisting conversations in coffee shops back home.

The moment I walked into Copper Dog Books and saw the book propped up on a cute wooden book stand at the table next to the main door was when her name immediately popped into my head.

Growing up, I gave my family lots of little gifts: temper tantrums, difficulty putting me down to take naps, unexpected bloody noses and, my favorite, emotional breakdowns over how cute Snoopy was. (I still adore Snoopy and am very much still in my Snoopy phase.)

My parents always told me that it was the thought that counted — not the scale of what you give.

Whenever I go to a friend's apartment or house, I show up with a small gift. Whenever my friends help me with a task, I try to repay them with words of gratitude or suggesting grabbing a coffee later.

While to some people books are just thin pieces of dead trees covered in ink, binded by more dead trees and then placed on shelves also made of dead trees, I see them as the most pure thing that someone could give you.

To be told that a book reminded someone of your soul is possibly the most delicate remark that could be made.

Humanizing is a skill that's not taught in school — but one many people lack. Being able to see someone as more than just a person, as the culmination of their dreams, emotions, failures and soft spots is a special gift few people possess.

I’ve found that in giving books, I’m able to take someone’s personality out of its corporeal state and translate it into art. When you give someone a book, you’re telling them: “This arrangement of words and ideas and emotions made me think of you.”

You’re telling them that the art they are is reflected in another art piece — the ultimate compliment.

My mother reminds me of Emily Dickinson, more specifically her quote, “I wish you a kinder sea.” My roommates remind me of the infamous “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series because the most insane and ridiculous things happen between the four lives we live.

My brother reminds me of the book “Green Eggs and Ham” because he constantly pushes me to try new things, and without him, I wouldn’t have the passions I have today.

My father reminds me of the book “The Art of Worldly Wisdom” because this book is a pain to get through when you wake up, but it does offer invaluable advice to its reader (which I should start listening to because Baltasar Gracián knew a thing or two).

I see myself as one of my childhood favorites “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” because adventure, the unknown, keeping an open mind and seizing opportunities are things I prioritize in my life. Also, the main character, “You” makes sure you don’t leave any roads untraveled.

Now, scouring the shelves of The Squirrel and Acorn Bookshop and Webster’s Bookstore Cafe in downtown State College, my mind has a new set of names to carefully pair with the literary masterpieces that sit, waiting on the bookshelves.

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