I was a Secret Santa without a clue.
A boyfriend’s family invited us to spend the weekend before Christmas with them in Sacramento, California, and join in on their annual Secret Santa gift exchange. Although we had been dating for a year, I had yet to meet his family.
I was randomly assigned to give a present to my boyfriend’s sister-in-law. I knew almost nothing about her, except that she wouldn’t mind an Amazon gift card. Essentially, she was a complete stranger.
I’ll admit I’m a bit stubborn: I didn’t want to give her a gift card. Gift cards are boring. I wanted to impress my boyfriend’s family with whatever gift I gave her.
But what do you give a complete stranger for Christmas?
Around Christmastime, I also found myself in the mood to rewatch the 1994 film “Forrest Gump” starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Sally Field and Mykelti Williamson. I didn’t own the movie, so I decided to buy it for myself.
That’s when it hit me: “Forrest Gump” is such a remarkable movie that I should also get it for my Secret Santa gift.
But I didn’t want to stop at just the DVD — even if it is, in my opinion, one of the most rewatchable movies of all time — so I started browsing Amazon and got a gift idea as delicious as the box of chocolates Forrest Gump enjoys in the famous park bench scenes. (He sits on the bench for most of the film, telling his life story to anyone who will listen.)
If you’re clueless about what to get someone on your Christmas gift list, you gotta try this: Give the critically acclaimed movie, a Forrest Gump-themed mug and a box of chocolates.
I ordered a mug with the iconic phrase “Life is like a box of chocolates” paired with a still from the film showing Forrest Gump with his box of chocolates. BeeGeeTees (www.beegeetees.com) offers the dishwasher- and microwave- safe mug in 11- and 15-ounce sizes for $14.95.
I also picked up a box of assorted chocolate truffles from the Mukilteo Chocolate Co., which offers a variety of caramels, fudge, nut clusters, custom chocolate bars and truffles.
All of the chocolates are handmade in the European tradition by Jan Straub, chocolatier and owner of the Mukilteo chocolate shop (www.mukilteochocolate.com).
Straub makes thousands of truffles in time for Christmas — not to mention the hundreds of chocolate Santas and other holiday-themed treats she makes by hand.
“December is by far our busiest time of the year,” she said. “It’s very time consuming, but it’s also very fun.”
Her top-selling truffles in December include the palenque, in dark chocolate with a blend of cinnamon, chile pepper and other spices, and the snowball, in white chocolate with five kinds of vanilla, as well as the buttered rum, maple &molasses, mocha and the Bailey’s Irish cream truffles.
Available are truffle boxes of varying sizes, from a single chocolate to a boxed assortment of 30 truffles. While duet boxes (with two truffles) are best for stocking stuffers, I bought a box of nine for $25. A giftwrapped box of chocolates is extra.
As a chocolate lover, Straub identifies with the scene in which Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump says, “Mama always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’”
“When you open a box of chocolates, it’s like you’re unveiling life’s possibilities to me,” she said.
“It brings me back to the excitement and happiness of being a kid. You don’t know what’s in that box. It’s a surprise. You sit there, and you stare at the chocolates and you wonder, ‘Which one is going to make me smile the most?’”
If you’re wondering, my boyfriend’s sister-in-law loved the Forrest Gump trifecta. When she opened the present, it was game over. The whole family oohed and ahhed at the movie, mug and chocolates combo.
If you don’t agree with me that “Forrest Gump” is a must-watch-and-rewatch movie, keep reading.
The comedy-drama film is based on a Winston Groom novel by the same name that tells the life story of Forrest Gump, a slow-witted but kind-hearted man from Alabama who witnesses and, in some cases, influences some of the defining moments in American history between 1944 and 1982.
“Forrest Gump” became the top-grossing film in the United States and Canada released that year, earning $678 million worldwide during its theatrical run.
In 1995, it won six Academy Awards for best picture, best director (Robert Zemeckis), best actor (Tom Hanks), best adapted screenplay (Eric Roth), best visual effects and best film editing, among multiple other awards and nominations.
In 2011, the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the United States National Film Registry because it was deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
Not only are chocolates the go-to gift of the season, but the timeless story of Forrest Gump can be, too.
You Gotta Try This is a new column by Features Editor Sara Bruestle which will run periodically in The Herald. Contact her at 425-339-3046; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @sarabruestle.