My office is currently the storage site for Christmas presents. The floor is littered with plastic bags of all colors and sizes. I like to think I do a pretty good job picking out presents for people, but I started thinking about the best presents I ever got at Christmas. Of course the best present is having friends and family with you at the holidays, but that was the easy answer.
I could remember presents I bought other people. Meka mentioned once she liked the illustrations by Rockwell Kent, especially the ones he did for Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. One year, I happened to find a copy of that version of Leaves of Grass complete with the cardboard sleeve (not bad for being seventy years old). It was definitely something she wasn’t expecting; I got a good surprise reaction from her that made it worth the effort. My grandparents had a radio they played every day for about forty years. When it died, I opened it up and discovered the wiring had turned to dust. That Christmas season, I happened upon one of those old-style cathedral radios that looked like something straight out of the 1930’s. My grandparents were straight out of the 1930’s too; it was perfect. While I could have bought the radio on my own, I called my brother and dad to go thirds on it with me. That way, we all had our names on a gift they actually used.
I remembered getting a lot of board games as a kid. I got Battleship one year. I still play that with Daniel. I also got Laser Attack, one of those games that had a really cool commercial, but the actual game play left something to be desired. I got a number of electronics over the years (hard to believe, I know). The first one was a handheld videogame called Electronic Quarterback. The “players” were small red LED lines that were controlled with a set of arrow keys. I used to be able to beat the game 300 (or more) to nothing. I bought myself a CD player with my Burger King paycheck when I was seventeen. Noting my mom’s crestfallen expression and the possible CD-player-sized box under the tree with my name on it, I quietly returned it the next day.
What will this Christmas bring? Some people will be getting what they want because they asked for it. I like to think I picked out some nice things for others, but I don’t have a feeling any of them is a “home run”. The only thing I asked for this year was the new Stephen King book. That doesn’t mean the potential isn’t there and it doesn’t have to be something big. One of my favorite presents was a stuffed bunny rabbit courtesy of Meka. It wasn’t just any rabbit, of course; it was the “Rabbit with Big Pointy Teeth” from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I don’t remember what my “big present” was that year, but I still have my stuffed rabbit on the shelf, guarding my office from potential gift spies.