I'm afraid to say that gift giving has become more of a chore than a pleasure for me in recent years. Not because I don’t enjoy buying things for others, but because personal experience has taught me that guessing what might be a welcome addition to someone else’s possessions is not only difficult, but sometimes impossible.
The current economy has meant that there is less money for things we don’t need or want, and we’ve all become more aware of being selective about the burden of possessions in our lives. After my parents died I discovered innumerable gifts sent to them, mostly opened, but obviously unused, stuck in various drawers or on closet shelves. It really depressed me to see that something that I had squeaked out of a tight budget was neither returned for something more desired or passed on to someone who needed it.
We’ve defaulted to asking our children for very specific requests, including links to order what they want online, or giving gift cards or checks for something they need. I’m happy to see my gifts being appreciated, but somehow the pleasure of seeing someone open a surprise and be truly delighted just isn’t there when you’re being practical.
Walker III has become quite a nostalgia buff as he has matured. I think his “collectibles” are simply a way of recapturing what was apparently a really happy childhood with his sisters. He has been on a quest to re-purchase every single toy he remembers from his earlier days, most of which I sold in a garage sale or gave to the Alliance for the Mentally Ill when they called seeking donations. Sometimes he comes home from his treasure hunts to the antique malls with a small item he’s paid several dollars for that I recognize as a McDonald’s toy. I never complain, though, because these trinkets bring him pleasure and it's his hard earned money he's spending. I do complain about the condition of his room on occasion, however, so he’s learned to make room for his new things by sorting out some less desired ones...at least sometimes.
Over the last couple of years Walker has come to rely on the Ebay fairy (Mom) to help him locate things he remembers but can’t find locally, but for quite some time we’ve been unable to find a video or dvd of a short lived series he remembers, The Brady Brides. We looked and looked, but it apparently just didn’t exist. This year I hit the jackpot. I found what appears to be a bootleg copy from a secret source in Canada. Once I did, I put together a whole box of Brady memorabilia to go with it, as did his sister Sarah who provided some magazine pages and clippings along with other goodies that are probably truly collectible.
The look on Walker’s face when he opened the box was one for youtube, only none of us thought to capture it, but I do have one still shot courtesy of son in law Robert. “Oh my God! How did you find it? I though you said you couldn’t find it? How did you find it?” His reaction made my Christmas Eve the best ever. I hope I hit the jackpot with a gift again sometime in my life. It was well worth it.