One hour and fifteen minutes…

That’s right, just a little over and hour from now and my girlfriend will be starting winter break. 

The absolute best thing about being a teacher has to be the whole two weeks off for Christmas thing.  During summer break there’s some pressure to get a part-time job or do testing and research since two and a half months of sloth seems too indulgent.  But two weeks?  Well there is just not enough time for an extra job.  Sloth is almost required.  Teachers need to hibernate during the winter break so that they are refreshed for the remainder of the school year.

We have epic winter breaks in our household.  We stay up until all hours of the morning.  We sleep in (me until 9:00 am and she until 2:00 pm).  We play Playstation for hours on end.  We actually go out to see movies, which we never do any other time of the year.  One year we got sucked into late night television, specifically the show “VIP” with Pamela Anderson as the faux head of a detective agency.   It’s a show that we never would have watched had we not found it during winter break.  It really is “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Tonight we are going to go down to a trendy little shopping area in our neighborhood.  It’s three blocks of cool restaurants, hip coffee houses and off-beat stores.  We’ll get some coffee and perhaps ice cream and then poke around in this cool retro toy store.  We’ve been planning this excursion for a month, but just haven’t had the time.  But winter break is nothing but time.  Well, except for the time we have to spend traveling to visit the parents.  However, that is just three days taken out of the whole 16 day break, so it isn’t much of a time sacrifice. 

I finished up our Christmas shopping this morning.  Everything is done.  My girlfriend (who shall be named S from this moment forward) is the wrapper.  She actually likes wrapping gifts which works out well since I don’t enjoy it and I don’t do it well.  S wraps like a professional.  If she ever needed to get a winter break job, she should totally go to work at the mall wrapping gifts. 

Generally speaking, I dislike gift cards for people with whom we are close.  Too impersonal.  I want to give people a gift that I put some  thought into because I hate the idea of just giving a gift for gift’s sake.  When I receive a gift card I feel a little let down, like the person giving it to me (close friend or relative) just didn’t care enough to think about finding something for me that I might like.  Sure, they are being thoughtful giving me a gift at all, but still…  If you really can’t think of something that the person wants or needs, maybe you don’t need to give them anything other than time.  That being said, S and I are giving some gifts cards this year.  But, we did put some thought into it. 

You see, S’s grandparents and my parents have everything they could ever want or need, especially in the category of things S and I can afford.  They don’t need anymore scarves or trinkets.  But they do like to go out to eat.  So we bought them gifts cards for the various restaurants they enjoy.  And in the case of my mother, she has never been to a Quiznos.  She has expressed interest in the place, but probably wouldn’t bother spending her own money to go to a sandwich shop.  So, one of the cards I bought for her is for Quiznos. See, I still put some thought into it.

Okay, I can accept gift cards to bookstores.  I am a book fiend and my reading interests are all over the board.  S’s dad, not a bookish fellow, gave me a Gerald Ford biography for my birthday, but he had to run it by S first.  Buying books for people can be difficult, so a gift card is more than acceptable.  I no longer feel slighted when S’s family gives me bookstore gift cards because I know they are doing it because they know I love books and they don’t want to have to just ask S what book I want.  But I would be terribly affronted if my parents gave me a gift card for anything.  I talk about books with them and they know me well enough to know what kind of book they could get for my reading pleasure.

I also have a problem with buying people things off of their requested Christmas lists.  S’s mom makes us all give her wish lists which she posts where everyone can see them.  Creeps me out.  I don’t like explicitly asking for things from people.  It goes back to the whole “put some thought into it” gift giving idea.  I like paying attention to people throughout the year, listening for some nugget of information that I can parlay into a cool gift at some point.  Alas, this year I got few nuggets.  We managed to get S’s brother, D and his wife (B) some games because they were lamenting their lack of games.  But for her brother, J and his wife, we were pretty much forced to get them a requested decoration.  Same goes for her dad.  I thought I had a cool idea for him but it turned out to be way too expensive, so we got him the Rocky box set.  I’m sure he’ll like it since he did request it, but I feel a little hollow.  I did get to be creative with the gift for her mother.  She is a total fiend for pictures.  At every family function she blinds us with her camera flash.  It borders on obsession.  But she never prints them out or puts them in photo albums.  So this year we got her a photo album and then filled it with 40 or so family photos.  I think she will probably cry when she opens it and that is the best Christmas gift for me.

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One Response

  1. […] in December of 2005, toward the end of a particularly good Christmas break, S asked me a question about Sean Penn.  I answered her question but then I couldn’t resist […]

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