“We only have what we give.” — Isabel Allende
Christmas season is here once again, and with it comes the time-honored custom of giving gifts as tokens of affection and kindness. It is one of the most celebrated times of the year, bringing together loved ones and strangers in welcoming circles of warmth and camaraderie. Truly a magical time for young and old alike, it is also that final major holiday to go all out, express your love, and participate in the traditions that bind families and friends in collectives of thoughtfulness.
The Fountain Pen as the Perfect Christmas Gift
In a nutshell, YES it is.
I must admit, I am biased. Being a fountain pen enthusiast myself, it seems at times that my life has been subtly shaped by fountain pens and their related accoutrements. I guess this is true for all things that we are passionate about. It is no wonder then that I would consider a fountain pen a quintessential present. If you are like me, then you need not be convinced, right?
For the sake of argument though, I would like to reiterate a few major reasons WHY. First of all, the fountain pen is an incredible writing instrument. It is a handheld feat of engineering and technology. This can be seen in the multitude of designs, mechanisms, and materials that have been used to produce these amazing tools. There are even such beautifully handcrafted fountain pens too, that having them is like owning a piece of functional art.
Secondly, the right pen feels good in your hand. The principles of its use makes the fountain pen comfortable in action. That is why a lot of writers and artists favor them as tools of creation.
Thirdly, have you seen the veritable wonderland of fountain pen inks and fountain pen-friendly paper available nowadays? It makes my heart just sing with excitement at all the possibilities of pen, ink, and paper combinations that can be played with.
And lastly (for now), beyond the writing instrument itself is a practice in self-awareness. This mindfulness develops as you discover how to write with your fountain pen and enjoy those times when you sit, slow down, and take a moment to transcribe your thoughts onto paper.
The fountain pen as a gift holds vast potential for both receiver and giver alike. For the person accepting it, he is offered an instrument that can be an invaluable companion on his personal journey. As for the giver, he is given the opportunity to share the delightful experience of using a fountain pen and pass on the passion to someone else.
The Fine Art of Penabling
Generally speaking, to “penable” someone is encourage them to like (or fall headfirst into the rabbit hole of) fountain pens. This can be achieved through various means, with the most direct and convincing way being to offer them the object of interest itself. Nothing says “I’d love to share this experience with you!” quite like giving someone a fountain pen, and maybe some fountain pen ink too.
Now, to penable someone effectively, you have to know a few things about the recipient. These would help you tailor your choice to maximize the enjoyment, and the rest will be history. This is why penabling friends is so much fun as well. You’re familiar enough with their idiosyncrasies that matching a fountain pen to their tastes is a challenge worth taking. It is quite heartwarming to see them take to the pen so well that they use it daily.
Online, there are reviews and forums which can help you gauge which fountain pen would be most appropriate for the person you’re thinking of. You can also reach out to other enthusiasts and ask about their experiences as well. If you’re penabling someone you don’t really know that well, there are some tried-and-tested fountain pens that appeal to a lot of people. Another way to go would be to surprise them with gift cards. This option allows them to choose their own adventure, which is particularly helpful for those exceptionally discerning recipients.
For me, penabling is fueled by the spirit of sharing. It is driven by our desire for others to have the same knowledge of and affection for this object that has given us joy. We can’t help but pass on the torch that might make someone else’s life a little brighter, as it has made ours.
My Christmas List: A Few Personal Examples
For my young nephew E.—
A TWSBI GO Sapphire F nib, best for this boy who’s rambunctious and curious. Its see-through, spring-loaded, piston-filling mechanism will appeal to his tinkerer nature, and makes the fountain pen easy enough to refill on his own. The snap cap and sturdy pen body make the pen safe enough for tossing in his backpack. A lanyard can be attached to the nifty loop on the pen cap, adding to the ease of access.
For my sister-in-law C.—
A LAMY AL-star 2021 Special Edition Cosmic F nib, a good fit for this lady who values practicality and style. The lightweight, anodized aluminum body combined with the ergonomic grip would be great for longer sessions of poetry writing as well as quick listings of needed groceries. The pretty yet hardy fountain pen body would survive getting lost in that big purse of hers.
For my uncle R.—
A Parker IM Special Edition Metallic Pursuit M nib, an iconic brand for him, since he grew up seeing Parker fountain pens on his father’s, my grandfather’s, desk. He has worked in the industrial sector for most of his life, so I think a pen like this would appeal to him and bring a happy sense of nostalgia on top of the bold and modern design.
For my artist-friend J.—
All of the Platinum Preppy Wa 2021 Limited Editions, just perfect for her who loves to draw in vibrant colors. Having a lightweight and durable fountain pen set that she can bring along means she can sketch anywhere and when the mood strikes. The colorful pen bodies with auspicious Japanese symbols will give her the boost she needs to let her creativity flow.
For my workplace Secret Santa—
An EndlessPens Holiday Gift Card, the smart alternative for someone whose likes and dislikes I am not familiar with. This would also offer the recipient the gift of choice, and relieve me of the stress of having to pick something that the person could actually use. These Holiday Gift Cards come in different denominations as well, so I can select one that fits my budget.
Keep Calm and Penable
Remember, with the myriad of options available to choose from, the fountain pen is among the best gifts to share this Christmas. It also has the capacity to go beyond its basic function as a writing instrument, and become a tool for self-awareness and self-care. If you cannot choose one for specific individuals, you can always surprise them with gift cards instead. Free yourself from the hassle, and let them have fun shopping for themselves.
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Written by Lekz Umali
Check out her art on Instagram!