a. You have done something *particularly* well and are deserving of a reward (and this is not an always-thing; you are not to expect it). Once in a while when I brought home an all-As (or almost all As, I never earned that great of grades in Phys Ed) report card, I would get some kind of small gift - a book I'd been wanting, or get taken out to dinner, or once, a box of chocolate covered cherries
b. You have endured something unpleasant and uncomfortable. (For a while, when I was in seventh grade, I had plantar warts. My doctor recommended I go to a dermatologist for their removal, which in those days involved liquid nitrogen - and it got worse as the warts were reduced in size; you are effectively having skin burned off with extreme cold). The dermatologist was not too far from where my dad worked, but he would drive me in, sit through the appointment with me, and then drive me back (so I could go to school for the rest of the day). BUT the dermatologist's office was in a medical plaza (maybe a hospital, even? I forget) where there was a gift shop, and he used to buy me a Snoopy paperback (a reprint of the Peanuts strips, sometimes going back years) each time we went - as sort of a "Having to go through that stinks and I'm sorry, but here's something that might make you happier" (I still have the Snoopy paperbacks)
It was sort of a quiet thing in my not-very-outwardly-demonstrative family (we do not do any kind of strong emotion well) but it showed you that you were loved and that the other person recognized either your achievement or sympathized with your pain.
But now, as an adult, I mostly have to buy my own flusters. (Oh, when I got tenure, I got a book I had been wanting from my parents, and I got another gift when I made full professor). But for things like dental work, I take care of it myself now.
I actually bought myself two, this second go, but the second one was partly a test to see "does the new Target card I had to link up to my Amazon account work with it?*"
(*for years, I had a Target Visa. They recently changed that to a chip-and-pin Target Mastercard, though I think now the in-store credit card is a Target card, as in, can only be used at Target. I kind of like having the additional credit card I can use anywhere. And I am guessing they jumped on chip-and-pin first - of my providers - because of the whole data breach thing, which I fortunately missed being involved in)
So anyway. I got myself two things: A "Bird Leg" bag that I had been wanting (it is a knitting bag big enough for a shawl or a lightweight sweater: bigger than my sock bags). The design is called Pack Mates - Alpacas! I think I saw this fabric online as a quilting fabric but it was sold out before I could buy any.
The other item is a stuffed Jellycat donkey, ordered from Amazon (he came today).
Yeah, I admit it: I will never outgrow stuffed toys and even though I can make my own (tonight's plan is to make the sweater and put the hair on Moondancer), I often like to buy them too.
The donkey is super soft and I find that pleasing. These things really are pet-substitutes for me: something that is furry but that won't make my eyes swell up or make me sneeze, and something that does not mind if I am at work for 10 or more hours a day. And they don't squawk if you try to hug them and it turns out they really don't want to be hugged. (Or pass gas, which was a trick one of my parents' old cats perfected for when she wanted you to set her down)
And I have a good enough imagination that I can almost accept the beady-eyed stare from a toy as a "look of devotion." Oh, I know it really ISN'T, I'm not that pathological, but I can pretend.
I have already named the donkey. He is Dominick, for reasons I probably do not need to explain to some of you.
(I can listen to that song MAYBE once a season. I wonder how Italian-Americans feel about it? I admit I get slightly annoyed at some of the "drinkin' Irish" songs but not enough to complain about "microaggressions.")