You know what I’d like to receive this Christmas, on future Christmases and birthdays? Aside from some laughs, enjoyable company, happiness in each other’s company and contentment with what we have, what I’d like is knowledge. I’d like to KNOW. It makes me feel good, prepared, focused and balanced. Ignorance gives me headaches. It makes my stomach twist. My face changes itself into odd, uncomfortable expressions. Ignorance is bliss? Bull… It sucks! I want power, I want assurance, I want knowledge.
Of course, I can seek out knowledge on an insanely humongous variety of subjects myself but that’s not what I’m focusing on here. The knowledge I want is the stuff only others can give me. Yes, I typed ‘give me.’ We’re talking gifts, remember? It’s what I want as gifts for future birthdays and Christmases. Indeed, it requires a little effort and work on other people’s ends but giving isn’t always easy and the knowledge I’m seeking does require some mental effort. What am I getting at specifically? Fine. I want my daughter, who’s turning eleven this coming Sunday to let me know what she wants for her future birthdays.
When I was a kid I was all about receiving gifts. Toys, gadgets, gizmos, treats, clothes (I appreciated and took them but they never got my pulse above a nice calm, lulling beat) and so on. I didn’t have any money and therefor, zero thought and care into getting gifts for others. That all changed around the time I started working when I was sixteen years old. Since then, I’ve preferred giving gifts over receiving them. However, in an almost ironic twist of fate, I require the gift of knowledge from would-be recipients of my gifts before I’m able to feel adequate in my hunt for those perfect items which have the potential to show my consideration and appreciation all while adding a little bit of brightening to my friends’ and loved ones’ days.
Yea, yea, yea… I know how wonderful surprises can be and I know the effort put forth through the giver’s thought process can be worth its weight in gold. (I guess thoughts don’t have much physical weight, huh? Thoughts are electrical charges in the brain, right? How much does an average human brain weigh again? It’s a lot less than an equally sized block of gold… WHATEVER!) Still, c’mon! I asked Vivien two months ago and at least once every week since, “What would you like for your birthday?” Her replies, cold, blank and sterile have been, “I dunno. Surprise me.”
Thanks for nothing, kid!
I love Vivien the same way I’m sure most fathers love their daughters. I want her to continue to be happy and I don’t want her to be disappointed. She’s still a child so I believe, both spiritually and intellectually, I have a duty to help shepherd her through these beginning stages of life. I also have an effect in her mental status. So when it comes to her birthdays and Christmases, I naturally want to get her things she’ll enjoy and use. I can guess, as is the begrudged case this year, and pick out gifts that are in relatively equal part, silly, fun, practical and useful but I have no idea whether or not she’ll like them. I loathe that uncertainty but it’s the way it is.
Eleven is a tough age to buy for. I’m guessing twelve will be just as vexing. Maybe it’s the times. Hell, when I was eleven, all I wanted were Transformer toys and some Star Wars stuff AND EVERYONE KNEW IT. I looked forward to the cake and the authority to pick what I wanted for dinner. I smiled a lot and felt like a star. Simple, right? Not so seemingly simple with my offspring. Let’s go over the checklist, shall we?
Toys? Nah, she plays with them sometimes but not like I did at her age (my kid seems much more mature than I am, er, I mean than I was at eleven). Aside from that, she already has a ton of plastic, vessels of the imagination. Toys are out. Books? She likes to read but already has a small library she’s turning through, one page at a time. Clothes? That’s generally her mom’s area of expertise. Gift cards? She doesn’t drive yet so a gift card is just a bit of a burden or an afterthought if and when opportunities present themselves. Video games? She’s not a huge fan. She plays on her Kindle a lot but hasn’t given me any clues (remember her response to my inquiry – “I dunno. Surprise me.”) about which games / apps she might want. The kid likes Minecraft and plays it a lot already. Telescope? She loves astronomy but the last time she had a telescope, she never used it. She needs someone else to show interest for her to get involved. Musical instruments? I got her a piano keyboard for her sixth birthday. She only plays it when I do and the thing usually sits at her mom’s house. I have a feeling any other instruments would collect dust or she’d be told to ‘quiet down’ far too discouragingly often over there.
It goes on an on… I think any and all of those would work but I don’t KNOW. Yea, first world problem for sure. “Oh my! What ever shall I give my sweet, little cherub for her eleventh birthday?” I don’t know why but when I typed that, the voice in my head had a southern woman’s accent from the 1800’s – like one of the cute little, dolled-up peaches right out of Gone With the Wind. Fiddle-dee-dee.
Neither her mom and stepdad nor her stepmom and I are rich but we’re all doing alright financially. The kid really has all she needs and then some. Either way, she’ll be fine. Still, I’d like the knowledge, a general list of preferred interests from which I can work and play with before making my gift selections. That’s what’s on my own Christmas list. Knowledge is power they say. True, perhaps, but I think knowledge also lends toward peace and serenity. It sure would in this case for a guy like me who loves to give gifts but hates having to make even somewhat blind guesses as to what’ll strike another person’s fancy.
Ah well, in the end, I’ll give her what I got her, hope she likes it and if she isn’t at least mildly nudged toward the realm of delight then maybe she’ll give me a little more guidance for next time (Christmas is only four weeks away). Dana and I are going to make her cupcakes, put up our Christmas tree as a family while she’s over, play games and eat good food. I’m going to smile, laugh, help everyone else laugh and celebrate another joyous year passed where I was able to be Viv’s father and she was able to be my daughter. Hmm. That brings things into perspective, doesn’t it? Perhaps all this fuss is just that, fuss. Perhaps Vivien will surprise me. Perhaps she’ll feel like a star too.