Welcome to the forums.
Its been so long since I ran Gingerbread I can hardly remember it. The last update for Gingerbread 2.3.6, UVLDE, was very good. ICS 4.03, I didn't really have problems with but a lot of people did. With 4.0.4 update my phone is running very smooth and I get probably 15% better battery life.
I have seen a very few complaints from people that since 4.0.4, sometimes when they make a call, the can't hear it ring and when someone answers they can't hear them speak. I haven't experienced this because I hardly make calls.
If you do decide to go to Ice Cream Sandwich and then don't like it, it is very easy to go back to Gingerbread
Congrats on your first Android! You'll love the Galaxy S2.