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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.


Rodney Expounded Thusly:

All good points…but, what do you want this year?

Monday, November 29th, 2004 • 11:36am • Permalink

John Expounded Thusly:

Money is fine. Large bills preferred (easier to mail). Thanks for asking.


Monday, November 29th, 2004 • 6:18pm • Permalink

Steve Expounded Thusly:

I’m getting John a ______________. (EDITED FOR SURPRISEABILITY)

I love your sentiments on this, and I agree. I was just saying to Marcy on the way home from the airport last night that I was dreading Christmas this year because of the shopping. I’m horrible at finding stuff for people.

SCRATCH THAT. What I really think I mean is I’m always worried I won’t find something for someone, and sometimes don’t, and so I end up getting neither a surprise gift nor a “What do you want?” gift and the whole spirit of the giving goes kablooey.

I told Marcy I’m just getting everyone gift cards this year. Everyone! Even my family.

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004 • 11:14am • Permalink

John Expounded Thusly:

I’ll take mine from Macy’s, please.

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004 • 2:08pm • Permalink


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