It’s December 5th, and I’ve already broken one my cardinal rules of holiday shopping. Yesterday, I went to one of my favorite stores, list in hand, to pick out gifts. Now, this year I SWORE that I would buy specifically for people, instead of just picking up things I like and then figuring out who to give them to later. The distinction here is that in the first case, you’re actually THINKING OF OTHERS and in the second you are SUPREMELY SELFISH. Guess which I was? You got it. I picked up all this great stuff I liked, totally cute, then got home and spilled it out onto the bed, only to realize that none of it was really perfect for anyone on my list. Which means it will probably all end up here, cluttering my house and reminding me of my ABYSMAL HOLIDAY FAILURE. (What’s with the caps? I think it’s to convey guilt.) Anyway. Hopefully it’s not too late. Today, I’m heading out again, and this time I am sticking to my list. I swear.
Speaking of gifts, I’ve found myself, suddenly, in another type of quandary. (That word looks so weird, doesn’t it? I checked it and it is spelled correctly. But it still looks wrong to me.) In the last few years, lots of my friends have had kids, which means that my list has shifted from being all about things like gift cards and candles and bottles of wine to toys and stuffed animals. As someone who has not had children (yet, anyway) I am always perplexed about what to buy for them. I mean, do parents really WANT more stuffed animals to have to pick up and deal with? And what if I get a toy they already have? Also, can you actually TRUST the age guidelines on the boxes? What if this particular child is, in your opinion, a total genius? Can he, at six, play a game that’s for ten and up?
(Note: my nephew beat me at EVERY GAME we played this summer. Uno, Monopoly, Checkers, you name it. I don’t think I’ll ever live it down.)
This year, I’m buying for several of the one to two year old set, so I’m thinking books are the way to go. I mean, they’re practical. Educational. You can chew on them, if you want. If you get one you already have, you can trade it to someone else for one you don’t. And if you’re not able to actually read it yet, someone is usually more than happy to sit down and do it for you. Also, all children seem to like books, and to be read to, and that’s not the case with adults. There are only a few of my friends that I ever buy books for as gifts, and then only when I’m totally sure it’s one they want. Books are SO personal. But with really little kids, it’s like they haven’t made up their minds yet about what kind of stories they like or don’t like. And even better, when I shop for children’s books, I can pick ones I love and not feel guilty about it. Everybody wins!
…as long as I can go to the bookstore and NOT buy all the books I want. Like, say, Stephen King’s newest, or Marisha Pessl’s debut that everyone’s raving about, or anything by Kate Atkinson, because I picked up her Case Histories on impulse and it was FABULOUS, so good I couldn’t even believe it. But I swear, I learned my lesson yesterday. It’s all about others. Others. Others!