...in a very obvious, very visible state of (shall we say) distress?
Since you're here, I'll tell you, though I'm wavering between saying "it's been that kind of day," which it has...
...and just yammering on, and on, and on in a slightly choked voice, punctuated by frequent eye-wipings.
It's mainly because I started my Christmas shopping today. Finished it, too.
I realized that two places I'll be this weekend will have Marines (God bless them) working their annual toy drive. This is a cool thing, and I would sooner be savaged by a squadron of demented marmosets than show up toy-less.
So I set off for the nearest toy emporium in a pretty good mood, even though I am somewhat budgetarily challenged right now and couldn't go overboard with the purchases.
And I was quite enjoying myself as I went down the aisles. I'm not the type who would buy any kid "Little Miss's First PDA," or "My First Cell Phone," or any of that crap. No way. I was determined to buy the kind of toys that grabbed me when I was a Tiny Yoot: things that do silly stuff, that let you weave webs of imagination around them, that cause your basic little-kid belly laughs.
PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: I'm not advocating "educational" toys. The closest thing to that I remember from childhood was the Colorforms set one of my sisters was given one year. I'm talking about Slinky toys, Etch-a-Sketches, weird-looking animal toys that feel good when you cuddle them and make stupid noises when you squeeze 'em. The kind of stuff I dug playing with at Age Six and, when no one's looking, still dig.
One nice side benefit of such goodies is that they're inexpensive. So instead of buying one of the latest Elmo dolls (which are clever enough but, once you've pushed in the right spot, aren't interactive at all), I could stock up on several of your basic hey-it's-for-a-little-kid-so-let-him/her-be-a-little-kid-damnit! toys.
And I did.
I walked out of the store smiling, dropped a few bucks -- there goes the single-malt -- in the Salvation Army kettle, and almost made it back to my car before depression hit me like a full clip of 9mm hollow-points.
That, friends and neighbors, is the extent of my Christmas shopping for 2006. And I won't even be there when the gifts are given/opened
There are several people to whom I would love to give gifts. Some might be slightly embarrassed by such a display of friendship/affection, at least one would throw whatever I gave right back in my face, and the rest are people who would, I suspect, feel guilty because they didn't get me anything.
Which isn't the point.
Nor, let me me hasten to explain, is money the issue. Granted, gifts that people need can be pricey. So, too, can gifts of intangibles such as love and safety. I'd do my best, in any case.
The big issue for me is that I love to give, and this is the season for really getting with the program. The last time I cared if I got fancy presents was more than 40 years ago; since then, it has not mattered to me if I received anything.
I just want to give.
A year ago, I envisioned a much different Christmas, 2006. I won't bore you with the details; suffice it to say I would have had plenty of opportunity to exercise this particular perversion. Whether the budget allowed for gifts that were massive and expensive or funny items from the 99-Cent Store, they would have been given in a loving, warm environment. The whole "family and friends" bit.
Didn't happen. Isn't going to happen.
I hope I've recovered in time to face the Marines tomorrow. I hope the kids they take the toys to get some pleasure from them, too. I know they will. They're kids, and they respond to even the smallest expressions of love.
And I hope the rest of you have a holiday filled with all the love, warmth, joy and sharing I thought I'd be enjoying (and, yes, was promised, but let's not go there) this year.
I don't belong here. The pelicans are flying West for the winter. What's up with that?
3 hours ago