Give it...

In my head, I know Christmas is over, and it's time to focus on other things. It's easy to slip into the mindset of my childhood though, and consider this whole week a holiday. A lot of people are off from work, and the office is very quiet. I learned that one of the major comic book companies we deal with is closed completely this week, which will delay crucial approval of one of my designs. I just have to wait until next week. And though things are otherwise calm and I should be able to use the three days I am working this week to finally get caught up, I find myself getting distracted, drawn into conversations or surfing the web. Just don't tell my boss, on vacation himself this week, that I spent part of my day Wednesday reading comic book previews at PopCultureShock. I'll deny it, or say I was looking for inspiration, which I have been encouraged to pursue. Hopefully Thursday will be more productive, or else I'll be drowning again next year. I can't believe I can legitimately say “next year” at this point.

Well, the lights are still up at our house and around the neighborhood, and since I can't get out of my slacker mindset, I might as well tackle Janet's latest “Tell It To Me Tuesday”(uh huh, uh huh). This week, the inquisitive teacher from New Jersey asks, “What are the favorite gifts you got (or gave) this year and why?”

At some point, as I got older and my living quarters got smaller, the idea of getting a nice haul for Christmas has faded. I peaked with Castle Grayskull, the last gift that had me literally running and jumping with joy. I buy games or DVDs myself as soon as they come out, so for presents I actually appreciate useful things like clothing now. My mom has a friend that consistently gets me a new dress shirt and tie every year. My parents got me a brand new jacket this year among other things, and actually surprised me with something fun. It was a beautiful hardcover edition of Superman: The Sunday Classics, 1939-1943. I wasn't expecting it, I didn't know it existed, and my mom packed it in a shirt box too, so when I moved the tissue paper aside it was a marvelous (DC-ous?) revelation. She packed a lot of my gifts in deceptive boxes; when I saw the huge box the jacket was in, I feared it was a television set or some piece of furniture that I didn't have room for.

My parents are hard to shop for, and I don't think I ever get either of them one good gift. There's a basic assortment of food that's standard for every holiday. With my dad's heart condition and limited diet, I'm safe getting unsalted pretzels, low-fat graham crackers, rice cakes, and bread sticks. I sometimes “cheat” and buy my mom cookies or other snacks that I like too, so I try to find things she likes that I won't end up stealing. I've already had like three of the miniature chocolate covered Milanos I bought her. Thus far, her Petit Ecolier are safe. It helps that they got me a ten-pack of Kit-Kat to keep me distracted.

Other standard gifts I buy them include various kinds of puzzles. I've had numerous requests not to buy any more jigsaw puzzles, as my dad tends to hog them and spend three consecutive days finishing one to “get it out of the way”. So instead I get them books to occupy themselves individually, crosswords and word finds for my dad, and Sudoku books for my mom. Sometimes I'll find something related to sports or crafts, and I got my mom a pretty nice needlework book this year. I got them both hats and gloves for the cold weather this year as well, but surprisingly it was the items I spent the least on that made the biggest impression. My dad thought I spent way too much on a roadside emergency kit, complete with tools, flashlight, and reflectors, and didn't believe that I'd gotten it for only five dollars on sale from my company.

The gifts I most enjoy shopping for though are toys, perhaps vicariously living through my cousin's children and buying things I would like. I was thrilled when I learned that his five-(or six-)year-old son had gotten into Batman, mostly through watching old Adam West reruns with his dad. I got a great playset with a Batman and a Joker figure, based on the current cartoon, and I hope he doesn't have it already. His grandparents, especially my late Aunt, always got me the best toys when I was a kid, but it was hard to get me action figures from any series I was a fan of since there was a risk of me having it already.

I also got him a set of giant inflatable insects, because every little boy loves bugs and because I'm cheap and those were also on sale at my company. I even have one of my own that I hung over my cubicle. Their daughter is a little tougher to shop for, and in past years I've gotten her electronic toys aimed at girls, like a cell phone game or a Barbie digital drawing/horseriding game. This year I got her a realistic battery-powered kitten that moves its head and meows. I also found a crystal “zoo” complete with a sign and various animals that can be colored with included paints. Hopefully it won't be something too messy or her mom will kill me. We haven't gotten together with them yet this year, but I can't wait to give the kids their gifts. Last year a Playmobil pirate castle was a big hit with the boy.

In the end, I guess the gifts I most like getting are the ones I got when I was a kid, and the ones I most like giving are the ones for kids. Fun stuff is the best. There was a whole phase in college when my friends and I were all exchanging action figures around the holidays. Kids really have the best reactions when they get something they really like. As adults, we tend to be more restrained, even when it is something good, and it might as well all be socks.

That's all for now, and remember, there are only 363 shopping days left...



Blogger Kev said...

Here's some fun stuff from my Christmas this year that included giving and getting (in a big way).

My sister-in-law is a big Mt. Dew drinker - she lives on the stuff 24/7. Awhile back I had myself a 20oz Mt. Dew and the cap had Buy one Get one free inside it. I saved that cap for her and included it with the rest of her gift. She loved it.

My father-in-law bought a DVD-camcorder late last year and gave me all the DVDs he’s taken so far (each less than 20 minutes). I ripped them all and made them into a single DVD for his viewing, and made a copy for my parents too since they don’t get to spend as much time with my kids as my in-laws do. Those DVDs were part of their gifts.

Earlier this year, my co-workers all submitted recipes to me and I compiled them into a small recipe book for everyone I work with. I gave copies of this recipe book to some of my family members as part of their gifts.

I filled out a survey for a work-related magazine earlier this year and recieved a $25 Amaxon gift certificate for doing so. I used the gift certificate to order three books for my wife, ostensibly for Christmas gifts, but we agreed not to exchange gifts this year (we bought ourselves a digital camera on Black Friday - that was our Christmas Gift to each other) - so she got the books a couple of weeks before Christmas.

At church, my kids get “Bible bucks” for memorizing their Bible verse, bringing their Bible with them to church, being there, brining a friend, and so forth. The kids get to spend these bucks on things like pencils, small Christian themed toys, larger items like Bibles and Bible covers, etc. My oldest daughter saved hers up and bought my wife one of those little blue and white plastic snow globes with a snow man scene inside for her Christmas gift.

At our small group a few weeks ago, I noticed that our hosts had several ornaments on their tree their kids had made out of CDs (like AOL CDs) and thought they were really neat. My oldest daughter made me one in her art class and gave it to me for Christmas.

And… my family had planned on going to Florida and Disney World the week before Christmas this year with my wife’s parents and her sister. But our vehicles kept breaking down this year and all the money we had been saving for our trip kept going to major car repairs so we couldn’t go with them. They got back and said they had fun but missed having their grandkids with them. So they’re giving us a practically all-expenses paid trip to Disney World with them next December as our Christmas gift for next year. They’re getting the hotel on-property, buying the tickets and all the meals. We just have to pay for the gas to drive down and any souvenirs we want (and a new van before then because our current vehicles won’t make that trip). My in-laws rock.

12/28/2006 9:33 AM  
Blogger Scott Roche said...

Favorite gift recieved.

And as far as gifts given, we're a little on the po' side so we hand made a lot of thngs. I had a ton of fun making chocolate truffles and marshmallows and from the reactions they were muchly enjoyed.

12/28/2006 11:31 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

I've felt like such a slacker lately too! I dont know what it is. I'm blaming it on winter. Yup, that's what I'm going with.:)

12/29/2006 10:47 AM  

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