I like a lot of things about my parents.
I like that they’re wishy-washy — or at least that they were, thirty-odd years ago, when they got divorced… and then remarried the next year. Apparently, they had ‘reconcilable differences’.
I like that there’s one of each gender, just to get both perspectives. Not that I have anything against same-sex couples, mind you. Feel free to bat for whichever team, from whichever side of the plate, and wearing whatever uniform you like, so far as I’m concerned. But it’s sort of nice to be able to make a tuna casserole and discuss the merits of the no-huddle offense, is all I’m saying.
I also like that they don’t live so close that they could unexpectedly drive past and see the stupid shit that I might be doing in front of the house, but also not so far away that I’d have to, for instance, rent the space shuttle to visit them. Delta Airlines and I have a route all worked out; the status quo is working out just swimmingly.
However, at this time of year, one of the things I like most about my parents is that they really, when it gets right down to it, have no idea what I want for Christmas.
Oh, they do fine, really. They know I have this penchant — really more of a fetish at this point, I fear — for striped rugby shirts. My wife is still railing against my fashion myopia — she’ll buy me sweaters, and pullovers, and turtlenecked contraptions, trying to drag my wardrobe into the new millennium — but my parents know its a lost cause. I like to think they sigh heavily as they browse through the American Eagle catalog, shrug their shoulders, and tell each other, ‘At least he’s not into the Goth clothes, dear.’
They also come up some appropriate doodads and trinkets — I dig hot sauces and hoppy beers, thanks for asking — that are much appreciated. But after that, they’re sometimes nonplussed, I think. We haven’t shared a house for nearly two decades, and my tastes change — except in shirtwear, apparently — as quickly as a fourteen-year-old girl’s with a Teen Beat subscription and a MySpace habit.
So most years, the presents from the ‘rents include a nifty gift card — to Amazon, or somewhere similar. Like this year, it was to Amazon. Which is almost exactly like Amazon, except that I put it in italics the second time. Amazon. See how that works?
What that means, of course, is that my Christmas season gets extended a few days. Plus, I get to open some goodies that I picked out myself. This year’s batch came in the mail today, and I couldn’t be gigglier if I had on boxers made of ostrich feathers and a snootful of nitrous. Huzzah!
On the other hand, it does lead to a bit of serious self-reflection, based on the merchandise I’ve selected. For instance, my father-in-law bought me a book this year. Nice book; I had it on my wish list. Serious, non-fiction book — eleven hundred pages long. No lie. I’m on page fourteen right now. Shaddup.
Meanwhile, one of the books I dug out of my Amazon — sorry, Amazon — package tonight was approximately thirty pages long. With pictures. Cartoon pictures. And in the very front, it had an otherwise blank page, on which was written in large, black letters:
THIS BOOK BELONGS TO:
Yes, hello there. I’m Charlie. I’m almost fwee years old. Mewwy Cwistmas.
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