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Davis

Davis, California

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Column: The thought still counts

I wanted an iPod this past Christmas, but I didn’t get one. It’s a shame – my current one is old, has a broken screen and can’t fit much on it. I probably could have used the Christmas money I got instead toward a new iPod, but once money’s in my hand I’d rather just keep it. I’m sure Apple could sympathize with my reasoning.

As much as I’m fretting over the foregone iPod and unmet desires of more gigabyte capacity like a little baby, I’m pretty sure this Christmas convinced me I’m getting old. My reasoning: I added up the total value of all my gifts and realized that, for the first time ever, I spent more than I received this year.

I could try blaming the economy, but that wouldn’t work. My twin cousins woke up to multiple Wii games and toy helicopters. Really, I suffered a net loss in Christmas revenue this year because I’m basically an old man, and old men don’t get gifts for Christmas.

It’s easy to say I stopped caring about Christmas gifts years ago. I really did – ever since I started paying for public school it seemed ridiculous to ask for anything big. Students are kind of required to shed materialism, especially when I spend all my money on Nugget food and Sam’s lamb sandwiches. And apparently gifts, as of this year.

I also don’t really care because Christmas gifts can seem like, well, a total slap in the face. Certain members of my family, for instance, provide a perfect case in point.

Every Christmas day, my family gets together at my grandma’s house to exchange gifts and eat the same dry, cold turkey roast we’ve eaten for the past 15 years. Like usual, I lingered around the party drinking an obligatory you’re-21-now beer my aunt gave me and talking about my career goals as my grandma’s new Susan Boyle album played throughout the house. She’s a big Sarah Brightman fan, but I think she wanted a change in mood. I’m not sure which one I would have preferred.

The parents usually do a Secret Santa gift exchange sort of deal, where each family member is assigned another member to give a gift to. This usually leaves someone short-changed. Generosity is never uniform with Secret Santa gift exchanges.

For some reason, one of my uncles is always assigned to buy a gift for my mom or dad. And if he gets my dad, his wife will be assigned my mom. This year, he gave my dad a plastic lucky cat as his Secret Santa gift – the kind you usually see next to cashiers at Asian restaurants. It had a corroded battery and fell apart in a few minutes.

My uncle’s wife gave my mom a TEMPUR-pedic headrest. While it looked great in the bag, it was really dilapidated, stained and flaccid piece of fabric-covered foam that never folded out into its intended shape. Somewhere, in someone’s closet, the pillow racked up years of dust and neglect.

If it’s really the thought that counts, my uncle would have been better off getting more discount self-improvement books from the front of Borders like he did last year. But whatever. I know my uncle probably found the pillow in his closet and had a bright idea; that his wife probably spent a dollar on the cat when she bought herself her latest Rolex watch. I know he probably ran out of creative ideas for my brother and I, too – I got a walking stick as my gift. Maybe he agrees with my old age revelation.

Right now, my dad’s plastic cat is currently sitting in my wastebasket, riddled with BB bullet holes. My mom’s limp pillow propped up the cat as my brother shot the corroded battery through its chest with his PVC-pipe air gun.

I’m glad I’m not really getting old.

JUSTIN T. HO’s favorite gift this year was a bell that looks like a crab, which currently sits on his desk begging for a purpose. E-mail him with suggestions as to how to use the crab bell at arts@theaggie.org.

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