Even by my own standards, I more than likely looked a little out of place. I mean, surrounded by all this pink stuff as I perused toy after toy suitable for girls ages 4-8.
Since I don’t have kids — and don’t plan to have any for a long, long time because I figure you need to be responsible to have kids and I’m barely responsible for myself — and my own aversion to most trappings of Christmas is deep-seated, it’s unusual for me to go Christmas toy shopping.
But there I was in the middle of the store, thinking about this thing with “High School Musical 2” on the cover of the box. Look, I freely admit I’m unfamiliar with this “High School Musical” phenomenon.
However, the show means a great deal to a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old who adore me. They are my buddy’s two little girls, and they love it when “Uncle Pat” comes over. I’m a human jungle gym to them.
When we were gathered around after saying the blessing at Thanksgiving — the girls sang it when no one else piped up — their grandmother asked, “what are you thankful for?” Again, she was met silence, so she asked the girls what they were thankful for. The youngest — who once had asked her dad, “When is Pat going to be through with his vacation in Tennessee?” before I moved back to southeast Georgia — proclaimed, “I’m thankful for Pat Donacuuuue!”
So I sent a text message to their father, asking if they had this thing or were getting it. He had to check with the boss — his wife — and got back to me.
“They don’t have it,” he said.
“They do now,” I replied.
It’s different shopping for my brothers — Outback gift cards here, a case of Milwaukee’s finest there, a few sleeves of Titleist to boot. Takes all of about 25 minutes to get my Christmas shopping done.
Ah, but the girls. And here is where I am lost. I have two sisters, both vastly older and well out of town now. Not getting much help there.
I asked my buddy a few days before my shopping excursion what he was getting his girls for Christmas. He had no clue and wanted to know if I had any ideas. Shoot, that’s why I was asking him.
He said I didn’t have to get them anything for Christmas, but after Thanksgiving, why not?
I really didn’t see anything of the Hannah Montana line for the two of them — again, another hugely popular show lost on me but a favorite of theirs — so I kept searching. I stumbled upon the “High School Musical 2” stuff and here was something they could sing and dance along with. Perfect.
So armed with their present, which still needed to be wrapped and that’s another skill well beyond my reach, Christmas shopping was secured.
Among family members, we made a pact years ago not to feel compelled to get each other Christmas presents. We generally stick to the rule of thumb. We get each other gifts if we feel like it and then not everybody gets one. At our ages, we feel if you really want something you ought to be able to get it yourself. So we treat Christmas as a day to get together, eat and punch each other in the arm. Isn’t that what family is all about?
I’ve got two nephews, one in his late 20s working on still being a teenager — so he’s not getting anything — and another about 8 years old and 2,000 miles away. So I’ve got to look for someone else to spoil. Why not my two ersatz nieces?
And I always manage to treat myself well at Christmas. I didn’t get myself much, only the opportunity to hear, at my leisure, the musical question penned by Nick Lowe, “(What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding?”