If you were told that a married couple exchanged gifts on Christmas morning, and one of them received the DVD box set of the first fifteen “30 For 30” ESPN documentaries, and the other received a doll based on a character from the 1940’s, I suppose you could be forgiven for assuming the DVDs were for the husband and the doll was for the wife. But of course in my family it was the other way around.
Also in my family the word “doll” gets used (mainly by me when I’m feeling especially self-deprecating) as a stand-in for “action figure” because it is funnier that way. So, indeed, one of my cool presents from my wife was a Green Lantern action figure, specifically the only-tangentially-via-name-related-to-modern-space-cop version from the WWII era funnies. That niche had been sadly unfilled in my Green Lantern shrine down in ye olde Dork Dungeon but shall go wanting no longer. My wife also got me a set of Green Lantern cufflinks, not cufflinks in the shape of the Green Lantern symbol but rather rectangular panels with reproductions of vintage GL (the modern space-cop this time) cover art. My Little Bro got me a custom-made clock for the Dork Dungeon with a glass face in the shape of the perennial roleplaying necessity, a 20-sided die. My brother-in-law got me the hardcover of Wednesday Comics, my wife’s parents got me (among other things) an interview with Joseph Campbell on DVD, which might not sound as uber-dorky as all the other stuff but from my point of view it’s totally in the same vein, meaning the same part of my brain that never gets tired of superhero stories also finds documentaries about monomyths fascinating.
Of course there were other gifts which were more practical or sentimental, and overall not an eye-roller in the whole pile of loot (which I swear I would say even if half the people who shower me and my family with kindness at the holidays didn’t read the blog) but by and large I’m just left with the pleasant feeling that I must really have most of the life necessities well in hand at this point when Christmas morning comes down to a cavalcade of fripperies (which I mean in the most gracious possible way).
Also, there’s usually one more abstract gift which every Christmas brings, namely the feeling that I have permission once again to go out and buy myself fripperies without worrying that I’m bogarting someone else’s gift-giving opportunity. You might recall that I generally impose a moratorium on self-indulgence between my birthday at the beginning of October and Christmas, and obviously the end of Christmastime heralds the end of the embargo. This year the line of demarcation was especially pronounced because my wife and I hosted her family while telling mine that sorry, we wouldn’t be travelling this year. So everyone’s presents arrived via mail or hand-delivery as of the 25th and the exchange of gifts wasn’t delayed and drawn out until the Epiphany like it has been for almost every other Christmas I can remember. (Of course this also meant that the sheer volume of gifts was so concentrated into 24 hours, not even so much for me as for the still-the-only-grandchild little guy, that he was more or less shellshocked by the end of Christmas Day.)
This year, though, it looks like the moratorium may last even longer than usual, albeit for different reasons. A couple-gift which my wife and I received was a gift card to help defray the cost of some home exercise equipment, which has gone from want to need in light of us never having the time to leave the house anymore (something which a new baby will only exacerbate), and as appreciated as that is the remainder of the equipment’s cost is going to come out of pocket. As did some emergency car repair this morning, which was necessitated by the fact that my car battery died last night while I was waiting in line at the gas station. And our house is due for some serious (i.e. professional) pest management attention as well. And hey, remember that baby I snuck into the parentheses up above? She’s totally going to need a nursery’s worth of stuff, which you would think we’d already have covered except the little guy is still using the crib (which is one of those banned dropside dealies we wouldn’t want to put a newborn in anyway) as well as the changing table, and the glider bit the dust a while back and was replaced in the little guy’s room with a child-sized easy chair but a new rocker of some sort for the baby is definitely in order …
Point being, I still don’t think there’s anything wrong with me spending my own extra money on whatever amuses me, even if what amuses me is vintage toys or box sets of Saturday morning cartoons or whatever. But for the next few months there just isn’t going to be any extra money to speak of. Fortunately, like I said, most of the necessities are well in hand.