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Exit ArchiveArchive for November 28th, 2004

OK, now comes my least favorite time of year. No, not Christmas. I pretty much like Christmas.

What I hate is that cloying question, “What do you want?”

These are supposed to be presents, folks … as in surprises. Remember when you were a kid and you thought you had a pretty good idea what was in those boxes and you hoped you were right, but you didn’t know for sure until the morning? And remember how long Christmas Eve felt because you were so excited to find out what Santa brought you … not to mention your aunts and uncles and relatives? You had no idea! If you were bad, like me, sometimes you even opened one or two of the packages carefully and skillfully (or, at least, as carefully and skillfully as a 9-year-old can do) and just quickly, daringly peeked inside!

Now, all I hear from my parents, from my sister, from my not-in-laws is, “What do you want for Christmas?” My mom even gets kind of angry if I don’t have an answer, as if I am making her life difficult. I try to start out every year with the answer, “Whatever you think I might like.” Ultimately, I get beaten down and have to start making lists: a sportcoat, a Dustbuster, a book, a digital camera (hey, it worked last year!), etc.

But in reality, what I’d really love is if no one asked and instead went out shopping with an eye toward what they think I might like. It’s kind of fun to unwrap presents with no clue as to what might be inside, and to find out my sister thought I’d like a fondue set or my father thought I might enjoy the biography of Lawrence Welk. They might be crappy gifts, they might be great gifts — it wouldn’t matter. What would matter is knowing they put some thought into what I might like, that I was on their mind when they saw that particular shirt or that particular book and said, “I bet he’d like that!”

One year, my dad got me a Stephen King book. Just a paperback, nothing expensive. When I unwrapped it, he had a huge grin on his face (and a grin on a father’s face is almost as good as a dog rolling over for a belly scratch) and said, “I know you like Stephen King.”

In fact, I hate Stephen King. I can’t stand his writing and think his books are all too long by about 350 pages. But I read that book, and I tried to like it, and that present meant a lot to me because my dad had picked it out with no “help” from me. It wasn’t on a list, it wasn’t a special request, I didn’t tell him what I wanted after days of badgering. He just bought it because he saw it and thought (even if wrongly), “Oh, I’ve got to get him that.”

That is the best kind of present. One bought and presented with love and care, not on demand.