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Esco: I Come Bearing Gifts Y’all

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dreamstime_l_31027949What gift did you receive for Christmas? Oh, nada? What about for your birthday, prior to that? Did you receive a gift or a present. I have always maintained that there is a difference, how ever subtle.

Just like crocodile and alligator, or toad and frog, or a runs girl and a chick who would only date you for treats,  a present is something you give somebody gratuitously without any ulterior motives, and is usually given on their life anniversary or a really special occasion, for example a birthday present. A gift is something you give because you want something in return, or if there is some kind of catch to lure, bait or winch someone eventually. For example, the Trojan Horse was a Greek gift. You give the bride and groom a wedding gift, because you expect to eat all their jollof rice and small chops and drink their Chivita juice at the reception. No Item Number 7, no wedding gift. Capisce?

A BYC singlet is a present. Bravissimo lingerie is a gift, as well as an inducement.  A Bullet Vibrating Massager is a gift; a Nutri Bullet juicer is a present. A bullet from a trigger happy Nigerian police constable’s shakabula is a curse.

Last Christmas, I received a pair of really cool sneakers which I have not “launched” yet. I gave my missus a leather wristlet and a bottle of Clinique Happy, which is a fragrance I really dig. Otaakara my daughter was ecstatic when she tore open her wrapped pressie and saw an Elsa doll and a kid’s tablet, courtesy of her ma. She did not even so much as glance back at the clothes I had bought for her. She thanked Father Christmas, but she should have been more grateful to Jehovah Almighty. She should have thanked her lucky stars for her mum’s intervention.

You see, I am from the era where your parents gave your zilch for Christmas. In fact Christmas day was for eating rice and chicken, self-merriment and wearing your Sunday best for the yuletide service. But then I am also from a period, where a trip to Mr. Biggs was a very occasional treat, and then you still had to split a bottle of “minerals” and a sausage roll with your greedy sibling. So I am as frugal as fuck.

My missus started this Christmas gift exchange tradition. In fact Mrs Esco expects a token for every milestone of our co-joined life – anniversary of meeting, wedding anniversary, birthday, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, WCW, make up sex day.

Now don’t get me wrong. True, I am as Igbo as they come in my leanings toward giving and generosity, but I am quite open to gifting. In fact, when it comes to presents/gifs, I prefer to give what I think is practical and not what looks good sitting enveloped by a fancy looking wrapping paper, until the recipient opens it with quiet disappointment. Like you shouldn’t have. You really really shouldn’t have, bruv.

Nah, I like to give what I feel the receiver would really find useful. If you just had a baby, I am coming over with a box of Pampers/Huggies. Oh you moved into a big crib in water-logged Ajah. Great, I am appearing at your house-warming with a trampoline set or a steel jerry can for storing your generator diesel. On your wedding day, I am likely to shove a wad of cash into the bride’s hands during the couple’s dance, rather than gift a Pressure Cooker or a T-Fal cookery set. Many of these new school wives no dey enter the kitchen sef, and who needs fancy pottery for Indomie Noodles anyway. Haha. I kid, I kid.

Besides post-wedding expenses are the number one cause of divorce, as the stats show – after a roving adulterous eye and overbearing in-laws. Some couples spend big on wedding, forgetting that there is still marriage and carriage, afterwards. I am also likely to call the groom aside and present him jewels of marital wisdom like how to navigate around an irritable wife without resorting to violence or suicide. Like, I don’t have gold or silver or mint Naira notes to spray to bestow upon you and your newly betrothed, but let me give you the verbal wisdom I have as a wedding present. See eh, marriage is…. {Click here to read my pre-marital advice article}

My missus is of the opposite view when it comes to gifting or “presenting”. To her, a good gift or present should be properly wrapped and presented, and should look fancy if not expensive. She believes that there are guides for appropriate gifting. She’s the type to give the bride a very nice looking bedroom clock as she says something slick like “Never let the sun go down on your quarrel. Settle all marital disagreements by 12 midnight each day.” Oh please. Or give them a leather-bound recipe book and a set of baking accessories for their house-warming. Err, baby, they only have a kerosene stove in their kitchen.

I once paid money into her account so that she could treat herself on her birthday since I was out of town that week. She whispered into my ear as we lay in bed on the night of my return “Never do that again. Pick my pressie out yourself. It is the thought that counts.” Yeah, but thoughts do not make a useful gift. Or present. Or bribe.

I once tried to deviate from my tried and tested method, by getting smart with my gift choices. My mother, my sister and her kids came into town for the Christmas holiday some years ago, so we decided to host everyone at ours on Christmas Day.

Before settling down to eat, we had the present opening ceremonies. The missus and I had secretly decided to get my nieces and nephews something as well, so that all the kids including mine could open their presents at the same time. Nothing fancy – just a token of our love and in the spirit of fairness. My niece who was 5 got a small stuffed animal. My other niece got a toy baby doll which cooed when you combed its hair.  Otaakara got a toy turtle which we called “Anansi”. They were all joyous.

I had decided to get my 13 year old nephew something mature, despite my missus’s reservation. I used to like Mark Twain books when I was younger so I copped him a set of stories by the author including Tom Sawyer, which came in a fancy bound cover. Err, he did not like it and the look on his face said it all though he tried to smile sheepishly. He wanted no part of it.

Since then, I have resorted to giving him iTunes gift cards or cash for his mum, so she could get him something. You can never go wrong with cash.

So share – did you get anything for Christmas? Maybe from Father Christmas?  Or Daddy Xmas? Haha. What is the best or worst birthday present you have ever gotten or given someone, you cheapskate, you. And oh, the 150th comment wins a gift, sorry a present, from me.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime 

Fellow Nigerians, it is with the utmost pride and sincerity that I present these memoranda as a living testament and recollection of history in the making during our generation. Preamble: Esco is a lampoonist, content provider for hire, and convener of the blog Literati: Satires On Nigerian Life, which is a symposium to project the conditions of every Nigerian and inspire young people all over the world. He is currently working on his memoirs “The Great, Wonderful Adventures of Esco”, which will be available in 2016. Esco can be reached for scripting writing, ghost writing and editing work by email at woa[email protected]. Oh, and he occasionally tweets at @Escowoah.