I Hope My Family Likes Their Piles of Dirt

This one’s for Dad.

My year in Cairo is winding down, coming to a close, kicking the bucket, hiding in the dumpster, etc. Throughout the past year, I was careful to avoid purchasing any gifts for my family, keeping my tradition of delaying present buying  until “later,” which usually translates into “3 hours before my flight when I can only spend $2 on each gift and end up buying everyone decorative paper weights and nun figurines.”

But this time it’s going to be different, especially because the last time I went home, in December, I got desperate and gave my family Digestives and Hobnobs for Christmas. I might as well have put five packages of Chips Ahoy! under the tree. This semester I vowed to do better.

I began my gift hunting early, seeking something that would embody my Cairo experience in a way that my family would both appreciate and enjoy. After looking through all of the boutiques in Zamalek and perusing the stalls of Khan al-Khalili, I realized that these stores sold  worthless knickknacks that lacked the essence of Cairo and were inauthentic pieces of pre-trash.

That’s when I stumbled on the idea of getting each member of my family their very own piles of Cairo dirt, a fun substance that we eat, breathe, and live every moment of our Cairo existence. My family could use the piles as office, home, and lawn decoration and the dirt can also be used as weed killer, teenager-repellent, and an acceptable replacement for some spices.

I wandered through the city, looking for piles of dirt that I felt represented my family. I found one with some horse poop in it and thought of my mom because her sister loves horses, and right near there I found one with an animal bone in it and thought instantly of my brother. Just days ago, I was walking to the supermarket and saw one that had a syringe stuck in it and knew I’d found the perfect pile for my sisters (they love sharing things.) And then finally, I found one with a Twinkie wrapper sticking out of it, and it was as if Dad spoke to me and said, “This pile of dirt is for me, Emily.”

I filled up a jar for each family member so they can place their mini-pile anywhere they want (in the bathroom! the kitchen! the shower!) and think of me and Cairo every time they look at it. The idea might be a little cheesy, but I’m a sentimental gal and I do sentimental things.  I can’t wait to see the look on their faces–they’re going to be so surprised!

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33 thoughts on “I Hope My Family Likes Their Piles of Dirt

  1. tedstrutz says:

    I am glad I’m not on your gift list… but if you do, Hobnobs are delicious.

    • edrevets says:

      They are quite delicious. I brought back both for the family but surprisingly Digestives were the preferred biscuit. Strange people my family.

  2. This is the most economically viable gift giving I have ever seen. It will inspire me to give my family sealed yet empty tupperware bowls for xmas. They well be marked respectively “love” , “respect”, and “understanding”.

    • edrevets says:

      And the gift idea swapping keeps on giving. I now know what I’m getting my family for birthdays and Christmas of the coming year. Thank you.

  3. I for one would love a jar of dirt from a far off place. I could then claim ownership of some foreign soil (haha) that might just appreciate in value in the coming years. One of Three, you are brilliant.

  4. Archon's Den says:

    This is an excellent idea. Like Audrey, we brought back “singing sand” from Myrtle Beach, to put in our terrarium. Your family and friends will *love* their gifts.

  5. Well, if you can’t bring back the Rosetta Stone, a mummy, or a Jewish slave…Thought about taking a trip to al-Qahira this June, but decided to wait on it because of the uh…calmness and decorous non-demonstrating surrounding the presidential elections. Hope you’re staying safe.

    • edrevets says:

      Ah yes, the festive and upbeat atmosphere can be a little overwhelming for visitors. For that reason, I’ve decided to take a break to a safer and calmer country: Ethiopia before heading back across the ocean.

  6. evea192 says:

    If they are`nt sup priced with this lovely gift`s, God alone know`s.,

  7. Roly says:

    Such a thoughtful person. I hope they appreciate your generosity 🙂

  8. You’re very thoughtful.

  9. Okay, that’s weird but I like it. Now I know if I’m presented with a jar of poop dirt it means I am loved.

  10. Audrey says:

    Is this the new gift that keeps on giving? It just ends up everywhere like the desert sand!

    One of my friends always asks me to bring her back sand from my travels. I have to admit I feel kind of silly packing back a ziplock bag of sand but she’s always happy so good enough!

  11. You’re sooo hilarious. xoxo

  12. Pooja says:

    “the last time I went home, in December, I got desperate and gave my family Digestives and Hobnobs for Christmas.”

    People may not realize that you’re not joking, but I’m a personal witness to this brilliant fact since we wrapped them together. I wish I could be there to wrap the jars of dirt in Christmas-y wrapping paper with you as well.

  13. tomwisk says:

    An appropriate gift fits the recipient’s personality. Your gifts will be remembered and appreciated. You are wise beyond your years.

  14. I love your blog for several reasons as well as the fact it brings a tear to my eye and makes me crease with laughter (the tear is caused by too much laughing). Thank you for being a sparkling diamond in the darkness of the Moon 😀

    • edrevets says:

      I appreciate this very much. Sometimes it’s hard to sparkle without the light of the sun and stuff, but in the end you just have to get up and get to work.

  15. Rich Crete says:

    How can I be 50 years old, spent my entire life giving those bullshit obligatory gifts and not come up with this idea. You are a certifiably brilliant. I bow to your wisdom.

  16. Brilliance is seeing patterns and connections (not in the schizophrenic way) and you are dazzling. Creative you.

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