Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Gift from the Heart

Now that they aformentioned Halloween is over, we can turn our sites on Christmas. Why Christmas and not Thanksgiving? Because Christmas shit is already out in all the stores. I heard next season, Walmart will have some fake trees out the week after Independence Day.



But I love Christmas. I love the whole season. I even enjoy the mild to moderate headaches you get from being in the mall breathing recycled air with the masses. Okay, that's a bit of a stretch, but it's safe to say I love the rest of it.



My wife and her family are craft-oriented people. Now admittedly, it's not my thing. I'm not really crafty, and only rarely creative. I just flat out can't make it work. But the more I am around them, the more I am coming to appreciate and even enjoy some of the things they can create. I can't spin crochet hooks through strings and yarns and some amount of time later pull out a blanket. It's hard, and believe me I've tried. If you think I'm full of it, just have a go. And the other part of the puzzle is that they, and specifically my wife, make useful things. They don't bend pipe cleaners together to look like various farm animals and call it art. Nor do they glue golden maccaroi to a piece of paper with googley eyes and call it a decorative statement. And if you've think I'm making this up, apparently you haven't seen what passes for "art" of late.



What really gets me though, is this; people, anyone at all, who will take the time to wrap up pictures of themselves, or more specifically their kids, and hand them off under the guise of a (picture a sarcastic guy clearing his throat as he does air quotes here) "gift". Are you freeking kidding me? Seriously? This is what you got me for Christmas?



Before I go further, I have to make allowences for the exceptions to this rule, and there are a few... The first acception which trumps all other rules of suck-ass gift giving, is if that is something that was asked for. As a newlywed, there are a few people that have specically asked for a photo of the wedding. They have chosen the one they want, and have asked to have it framed as a gift. Second, if there is a specific and deeply rooted sentimental attachment to the person or event in question. And third, if it's not the only gift that's being given. But even as special as my wedding day was, I could never feel good about giving someone a framed picture of my wife and I and with a straight face saying "Here's your gift." The occiasional fourth exception is gifts to grandparents. But even that isn't always acceptable.



One short year ago, I bore witness to such an event. I'm going to ommit the names and places, but if you know me, chances are you know who's and where's. An overly proud mother who thought that a great gift would be a framed picture of her son, and with that picture came a DVD. This DVD had upon it a slide show. This slide show ran about 2 hours. This slide show was all pictures of her son! You can't be serious. Wow, I wish I'd have bought your kid I see 3 times a year another $45 gift. What in the name of all things Holy is anyone going to do with a 2 hour DVD packed with photos of the first year and a half of some other person's kid? In what world is this an acceptable gift? Wow...two hours of the first year of your son's like where he can't barely hold up his own head, and does little more than eat, sleep, and poop. I feel totally unprepared. I wish I'd have gotten you another sweater and a nice bottle of wine.

The point is this; sentimentality has it's place, and an important place it is. But pick your times and places. 2 hours of still photos of your son is not sentimental. It's annoying. It's right up there with people put their kids on the phone to talk when in fact they are to young to do anything but gnaw and drool on the reciever. Think as you may that I'm being rude, cruel, or materialistic. But if you stop and think about it critically for a minute, you'll probably agree that a picture of someone's kid (and just as likely a picture you took and have in your own collection already) thrown in a frame only available in the mecca of civilized stuff, a.k.a. Walmart, just doesn't fly for every gift giving occasion.

If you haven't thought about it, consider it now, and get that "special sentimental someone" something they can use.

Crappy Candy

Last night was Halloween. Little ghosts and gouls all dressed up walking through various neighborhoods asking total strangers for candy.

Actually, that's not all together accurate. When I was a kid, we were little ghosts and gouls. Kids today, and perhaps more accurately their parents, would rarely think of putting in some time and effort to dress their kids up in a homemade costume, put on some make-up, and send them out into the world. No. Instead parents go to Target.com and buy something. Or, in the case of the really lazy, throw on the seasonal sports outfit of your chosing and call yourself who ever is the pro athlete of the moment. The exclusion to this rule is the kid who can up last night in full football gear and a Carson Palmer jersey with a paper bag over his head tha read 2-5 in big letters. I like the creativity. Ultimately, I guess I better appreciate the institution of Halloween while I can because in this day and age of conspiracy theorists, it will be no time at all until kids aren't allowed to take candy from people for fear of SARS, Anthrax, or whatever.

But I digress...

This is a quick point of fact I have to make to all the people in the world who still give these things to trick-or-treaters; the little orange and black wrapped candies that no one can recognize and no one ever eats? You know what I'm talking about. They're not branded with anything, no one knows who made them, and no one knows what they taste like because of the story we all head once about the kid who ate one and was never seen nor heard from again... STOP HANDING THEM OUT! No one likes them, no one eats them, and I think the only reason anyone still knows what they are is because they were purchased in the early 70's and people still can't get rid of them damn things.

My mom would disagree however. She believes that everyone needs some level of crappy candy. It can't all be Jolly Ranchers and Snickers.

I disagree...

But beyond candy, we'll have to talk about gifts.