It was approximately 13 hours into the first day of November when I bought my first Christmas present.
I had a goal: Finish Christmas Shopping Before December.
SPOILER ALERT: I failed.
There are always the stragglers. The friends or family members that are a little bit tougher to buy for. You try the creative route, the functional route, even the slightly above your price range route, but nothing fits, and then suddenly it’s the 3rd week of December and you still have nothing. By that point I’m usually knee-deep in a giftless panic and I find myself tempted to buy them a snarky pair of socks that say, “Hey, you suck to buy gifts for, I hope these make your shins itch.”
Confession: I probably deserve these socks. I’m definitely a, “I don’t need anything” or “I have no idea what I want but it would be cool if you could read my mind and find something that I didn’t even know I wanted,” kind of person. Apologies, Mom and Dad.
Yes, it’s true, I never know what I want. Honestly, I have a much better time giving than I do receiving. And I’m neurotic: I buy based on themes. Each year, I decide on a theme for each person, and I proceed to buy small pieces that correspond to that idea.
Spoiler Alert: I’m crazy.
When I was little I used to comb through the commercials, writing down the things that I wanted on a legal pad, already dreaming of ripping away the wrapping paper.
One year I asked for a Password Journal. A diary that would only unlock at the mention of your password, thus keeping all of your juicy secrets safe! It was a must have. I would finally be able write about Jonathan Taylor Thomas without worrying about my mom finding out how cute I thought his hair was.
Spoiler Alert: Password Journal is the alcoholic cousin of Siri and your navigation system. She never understands anything you say, and makes you scream “THE PASSWORD IS TWEETY SPARKLE” at the top of your lungs on a daily basis.
Another year I fervently pined for a “Baby Alive,” a doll that was so real that when you fed it, it crapped its pants. I COULDN’T GO ON WITHOUT IT. I so desperately needed a pooping baby that I could mother for a few months and then lose under my bed.
The summer before I started middle school, I found my new obsession. My favorite Sunday school teacher, Lanette had invited a group of the older kids over to her house to spend the night as a sending off party of sorts, since we were all graduating into the Youth Group and starting middle school. To me, Lanette was the bomb. She had her own apartment, she said my Barbie’s were cool, AND she had passed middle school before and said it wasn’t even that bad. All the makings of a legend.
When I arrived at her house for the sleepover, I was exhausted; I had just hosted a “Rewind Day” at my house. Yes, Rewind Days are exactly what they sound like. I would pick a day, sometimes in advanced, sometimes on a whim, and go through our entire shelf of movies and ensure that every VHS tape was rewound and placed in the correct case.
Quick reminder: I’m crazy.
I would sit in front of the VCR, endlessly feeding it tapes, wiping my brow, and leaning into the TV stand, commending myself on a job well done. “It’s not easy, but you gotta do what you gotta do” –my mantra, that I thought was sure to one day ignite the masses and rid the world of un-rewound tapes. I’m pretty sure my mission indirectly inspired the DVD.
As my friend Lauren and I skimmed Lanette’s VHS collection—eventually landing on Shrek—I came across a small rectangular contraption with a VHS tape inside. It couldn’t be a VCR, I thought, it only had one button. Both fascinated and puzzled, I pushed the button and heard the machine ziiinnnggg to life. It….rewound it.
I was floored.
Now I could watch a VHS while simultaneously hosting a Rewind Day. WHAT MAGIC.
I never got a rewinder, since DVDs entered the picture soon after and blew my mind all over again, but when I think about it now, it acts as a reminder of: a) the sheer wonder I can still feel radiating from my face as I saw it work its magic (a feeling I experience now when I see new apple products or drive through a car wash) and b) how even the seemingly smallest, corniest, stupidest gift could mean so much to someone, because of the personal meaning it holds beneath the surface.
Except password journals, they will suck forevermore.