Okay, I was thinking about gifts lately, and which ones I have found the most useful and have lasted the longest. Thus a small list:
1. REI Backpack
My freshman year of high school, my parents bought me this backpack for my birthday. I whined because it was pretty much my only present that year, but nine years later I am still using it five days a week. My sister still uses hers, too.
2. IBM Thinkpad Laptop
My dad gave me his old laptop when I graduated from high school. It lasted me three years, and he bought it used. I used it almost every day, and when the motherboard finally fried I was able to live without it for the summer, but I really missed it?
3. Sony Portable Cassette Player
I think my parents bought me this tape player when I was around 9 years old for Christmas. I used it to listen to my tapes all the time up through high school, and I think my mom still uses it to take to church and play music for her lessons sometimes.
4. Grado SR60 headphones
I bought these for myself about two years ago when all the cords of other cheap earbuds kept getting crushed when I put my mp3 player in my pocket. I use them all the time, with my laptop especially, and it's a better listening experience than just using my laptop's speakers. Every once in a while when I'm trying to watch a movie with someone I wish I had another pair and one of those dual-headphone output plugs.
5. Seagate 150 GB External Hard Drive
Another Christmas present from... about four years ago. I use it a few times every week to store huge files and listen to music. It's the old-school style, which looks like that droid tank from Star Wars V, but I think that it's a stable design, which is really what I go for in external drive design.
Honorable Mentions: My Land's End rain jacket (used every winter since around '04), my American Heritage Dictionary, my typewriter (more useful than you might initially suspect!), my 1 GB mp3 player, the portfolio thing I bought from the BYU bookstore to hold all my papers, and the green sport coat I bought at Thriftown for $7.
Looking back on this post, I'm like "wow maybe I am a materialist," but this is stuff that has really made a difference in the quality of my life, I think.