Wednesday, December 24, 2008
My mom insists on a detailed Christmas list every year. I don't really like this practice as I'd rather the gift be something the giver thought I'd like. Even as a kid I never really made a Christmas list. I don't think Ojo or Snake did either. Maybe it's because we were inundated with so many gifts we couldn't imagine wanting more. After Ojo's traumatic Christmas of '87 or '88, though, things changed.
He was in sixth or seventh grade. My parents knew he'd sort of out-grown G.I. Joe but weren't sure what the equivalent gift for an adolescent boy was.
They chose poorly.
Had they been reading a Zork choose-your-own-adventure book, they would have descended into the well and been eaten by a grue. That year Santa Claus gave Ojo a globe and a desk lamp.
The next year Ojo implemented a strict policy of gifts-from-the-list, and the list was cross-referenced to the exact page and item numbers in the J.Crew catalog. After that my parents came to completely rely on lists, not wanting to risk putting their own thought into getting the wrong gift for one of us. It soon spread to their gifts for each other.
One year my dad saw the exact electric drill he wanted at Sears. He gave my mom a picture, a serial number, the location on the shelf in aisle 32 at Sears. He was very clear about which electric drill he wanted. And he really, really wanted it. Like official-Red-Ryder-carbine-action-two-hundred-shot-range-model-air-rifle wanted it.
And my mom got it for him.
On Christmas morning we all opened our presents and then Mom and Dad opened theirs. Dad opened his up and began with a beaming patented guttural, "All riiiieeeght," and finished with a trademark scowl, "This ain't it, dammit." My mom was crushed but insisted she had gotten him exactly what he'd asked for. Dad quickly backed off on the disappointment so as not to ruin Christmas, but his disappointment was clear. It was as if that close-but-not-quite drill had shot his eye out.*
* To Ojo and Snake, I'm aware that the drill story probably predates the desk lamp and globe by about three years but it sounded better this way to me.
Posted by Rimas Kurtinaitis at 12:00 AM