Practical Presents

At the Buzzer takes Christmas very seriously. It’s the one holiday that all three of us really love. That’s why we go out of our way to celebrate by playing holiday music on the show, by having an entire themed episode just before the big day itself, and this year, by changing the look of the site a bit to reflect the season.

Last year, I had a post about the benefits of Christmas time that didn’t involve presents. As much as I do love all the ancillary stuff like music, cooking and decorations, I still like the idea of presents under the tree on the morning of December 25th the best. The only thing that’s changed over the years is the kinds of presents I’m hoping to unwrap.

Dave talked about something similar to this in a blog last year — how our gift preferences seem to be changing now that we’re getting a bit older. As the two of us edge closer and closer to the dreaded 30th birthday, I find myself agreeing with him. Christmas presents used to be about all the cool games and toys and gadgets, but now it’s more than that. Dave said he was looking for “memories,” but for me, the buzz word is “practical.”

I just did all my Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping from the comfort of my own home, safe from being trampled or arrested or murdered. What did I pick up this year? A hot new video game at a good price? New sports equipment for racquetball or basketball? Nope.

My exciting purchases included a couple of cables (an HDMI one for our game recording setup and a USB one to charge controllers and phones) and a USB flash drive to help store and rearrange bigger files (like, say, 50-100 MB podcast episodes). That’s it. The only other thing I looked at but couldn’t find a good price on was another pair of these sheepskin slippers I really like because my feet get cold in Flagstaff. Some folks were out there killing each other for that extra $50 savings on a giant new TV, and I looked at cables and slippers. Can’t you just feel the excitement?

Thing is, I don’t look at it as boring or a disappointment in some way. There are a handful of video games and board games I wouldn’t mind getting as a gift, but I’m just as happy with things that I know I’ll use. That’s the key now: usability. Give me a new kitchen knife that I’ll put to use, not a toy that will end up in a closet somewhere after a month or two.

I remember a birthday when I was 7 where I got something that was the new hotness at the time — a Magic 8 Ball. (Sure, it originally came out in the 50s, but you know how trends come and go.) I spent a lot of time for the rest of that party jockeying for position with the other kids from my school who were there, all of us trying to think of the next funny question to ask so we could get another “ASK AGAIN LATER” and then laugh and giggle like we’d had some kind of major discovery. Sure, it was fun, but I can tell you where that Magic 8-Ball ended up a couple of months after that birthday: under the bed, with all the other random things I was stuffing under there when I was told to clean my room.

As I’m putting together my Christmas list for this year, I’m trying to avoid falling into that trap. I want to ask for things that will last through the year, not disappear like a cheap novelty. And when it comes to giving gifts, the same philosophy applies: I’d rather take someone out to dinner and catch up on old times than give them a cold, callous gift card to the Olive Garden and cross them off the list. Christmas is supposed to be a season about sharing, giving, and reflecting, and I’m going to do my damnedest to make sure it stays that way.

Join the Conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s