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Social Studies

The Presence of Presents

Emily Flake

By Vincent Williams | Posted 12/26/2007

Agence France-Presse reported on Dec. 16 that a guy in Australia ended up paying more than $9,000 for a copy of Guitar Hero III for the Nintendo Wii via an eBay auction. The seller, according to the auction info, bought it for his son but, after catching him smoking some weed, decided to punish him by selling the game. The buyer who, again, paid $9,000 for a copy of a video game, was just happy to get, and this is a quote, "the Holy Grail of Christmas presents."

By the time you read this column, Christmas will be over, and regardless of whether you have someone in your life trying to get Guitar Hero III or not, well, it'll be over and you can go ahead and chuckle over it. For me, it's Dec. 20, and I'm using all of the Buddhist training in breath control that I picked up from seeing Shaolin Monks in karate movies to not freak out because I completely understand Mr. 9K's anxiety and, ultimately, relief toward finding a good Christmas present for someone even at what seems to be an insane price tag

I know we're all supposed to buck up and say, "Christmas isn't about the material goods," and, "Jesus is the reason for the season," but I'm man enough to publicly admit that I'm more into the other aspects. Hey, I'm thankful and reverent and all, but I'm not going to pretend that I don't I love the tree and the eggnog and the cookies and "I'm Mister Heat Miser/ I'm Mister Sun" and the Island of Misfit Toys. And I love the stuff. Mmmm-mmm, stuff! I love the shiny, bright paper and the bows and the presents. There. I said it. I love Christmas presents.

The thing is, if you're a proclaimed present-lover, it's a tit-for-tat situation. You got to come with it when it comes to handing them out. Hey, I know I want stuff from the people I love, so, in return, I like to get them stuff. I'm a believer in stuff for everyone! Yay, stuff!

Here's my issue, though: I have perpetually been haunted by people who can't articulate what the stuff is that they want. Honestly, the only person I have to really get a good present for is my wife, because my daughter is still at that point where, frankly, anything is great and this whole bright lights/cookies thing is working out pretty well. The problem is, my wife is one of these people who don't really want anything in particular. She's one of those "whatever you get me will be wonderful" people, and, my God, how annoying is that?

The bad thing is that I have so much experience with this issue with women in my life. My sister is just sort of "eh" with the choice thing, which is just kind of bothersome, but my mother, in stereotypical fashion, has turned it into an art form. I won't bore you with all the details of the decades of passive-aggressive mother stuff. Suffice it to say, when I've asked my mother what she wants for her birthday/Mother's Day/Arbor Day whatever, the only answer I've ever been given is a variation of, "Well, I just pray that I'm continued to be blessed to be here with my family," and then she starts talking about Lord Jesus and How Far We Done Come and, next thing you know, she's singing "We Shall Overcome," and I look up and I'm in an Alice Walker novel. And I still don't know what to get her.

And, while she's not quite that . . . theatrical, my wife is an enigma, too, because she's a "she's not." She's not jewelry-y, she's not clothes-y, and she's not hobby-y. She's very much a "Well, you have good taste, whatever you get me, I'm sure I'll like" type of woman. No pressure at all.

Remember when you were a kid and you just handed people a list of stuff? Hell, I used to tear the toy page out of the Sears catalog and circle the stuff I wanted. Do they even have Sears catalogs anymore?

Anyway, I read the story about the $9,000 game and I sort of envied the guy. While others may read that story and see someone who spent that much money on a video game, I see someone who spent that money on peace of mind. And, lemme tell you, I don't think you can put a price tag on that. So, if you're reading this on the 26th or beyond, bask in the knowledge that, at least, the present pressure is over for the season. Well, until next year.

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