This Christmas, the gift buyer faces a dilemma. The world changed a lot over the last few years. Everything speaks of disruption with broken supply chains and high inflation. However, the worse disruption is within minds, scrambled by COVID-induced insecurity and isolation. The disturbance has been especially rough on young people for whom I now offer gift suggestion advice.
My ideal gift for a young person would seek to lessen the effects of this disruption. I suggest something that instills certainty, cultivates beauty and breaks the isolation in the young YouTuber. The gift must be something reassuring and thoughtful, serious and not amusing.
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Such a choice would automatically exclude electronics. Nothing is more fleeting and shallow than these changing screens, occupying so much time with hardly any gain. Young people have too many of these devices, and, in any case, my suggestion would be hopelessly outdated.
A Gift with Accessories
Thus, my gift suggestion for the younger generation comes with many accessories that can be adapted for the person. This customization puts it outside the standardized box. It is a simple suggestion, but sometimes the simpler things are more prized since they lend themselves more to the imagination.
My simple suggestion for a young person is a writing instrument. It should be a fine pen—a fountain pen with beautiful ink.
I insist it be a fountain pen because it is an instrument that cannot be used with great speed. It forces the person to slow down and think about what will be written. It need not be a Montblanc or other expensive pen, but let it be a fine one that will be valued and rarely lost. Once adopted, a fountain pen is hard to abandon. It is an acquired taste that, like good Scotch whisky, grows over time.
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The choice is made easier by the immense variety of fountain pens available. The niche market is crowded with pens that can correspond to the personality of the receiver. There is no pen to rule them all with egalitarian tyranny. There are masculine pens and feminine ones. Gold and silver, jade and turquoise, black and dark blue all suit me fine. I would only ask that it be a serious pen, devoid of modernistic forms, crazy colors or silly designs.
Finding the Right Ink
In addition to the pen, the ink should also be included in the gift package. Most pens have an ink-filling option (my choice) or cartridges that allow a choice of colors and prolong pen life indefinitely. That choice also adds to the uniqueness of the gift. Each color communicates a spirit or mood. Cobalt blue, regal or raven black conveys substance to the penned words. An amethyst or gemstone green is lighter, even playful, while a cardinal red is passionate and forceful.
The ink communicates the personality of the writer. There is something about handwritten texts that contain personal warmth and assurance. The inked notes of a fountain pen are full of nuance and telltale splotches. Nib variety imparts intensity and depth. Writing with a fountain pen demonstrates effort and concern, showing you care about the reader.
Setting the Stage
The writing instrument and the ink prepare the way for a place to perform the art of writing. I would not insist upon a standard surface. This choice must also vary according to the person receiving the gift. Stationary would be the obvious choice, with stamps to facilitate the letter-writing process. However, let the stationary be pensive and beautiful to provoke meaningful correspondence.
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Not everyone likes to write letters. Thus, journals, portfolios, calendars, planners or notebooks can accompany the fountain pen gift. All are excellent stages for the pen to deliver its lines. Each medium has its mood and purpose. The fountain pen impresses upon them all a sense of pondered deliberation. It slows down the frenetic intemperance of life and spreads a refreshing message of calm moderation.
Let the Writing Be Beautiful
Some might think the gift set is complete, but I would add another accessory.
I have noted with sadness that many younger people are not well-schooled in cursive. Thus, if needed, I would add a gentle nudge with a book on cursive so that the writing might be beautiful. The fountain pen asks for this courtesy if it is to perform its art with maximum effect.
So many people are content with soulless scribbles. A return to cursive counteracts this barbarity and helps express a healthy individuality as well as something of civilization. It does no harm to propose this ideal since cursive writing conveys so much of the human soul. It can make writing beautiful again.
A Painter of Words
Finally, I would hope that giving the young person such an instrument and medium for writing might also awaken a love for words in the soul. After all, the pen is a painter of words. Beautiful text on paper might translate into a passion for expression, metaphor and literary verve. It might revive the long-suffocated sense of wonder and poetry that the handwritten word can transmit. This love for words would be the greatest of all gifts if successful.
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Of course, we can ask if the younger generations would appreciate such a gift. Perhaps it is wishful thinking to believe that those who receive so much instant gratification on their devices would embrace this soulful yet slow instrument of beauty. Alas, I will not be so naïve to believe that every young person in our decadent society will receive the fountain pen with enthusiasm.
However, I believe the attraction to beauty is universal and that many might succumb to its charms. I know some young men who have adopted fountain pens with touching devotion. Many young people today are searching for gifts like these that provide reassurance and certainty in our post-COVID world. Who knows? They might be struck by the wonder of it all. We can at least give them something beautiful so they might have a chance to marvel again.
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