10/29/2013
All I want for Christmas is...

To be honest, I actually forgot I needed to do my Christmas shopping until I saw someone - I'm not sure, but I think it's Chiqui - tweet about it.

There's less than two months before that time of gift-giving again, and yes, I have yet to buy gifts. Granted, I have yet to have enough money to buy gifts. Granted, I do have a credit card, but - and this depends on who you're talking to - I'm either frugal or scrimpy, and I don't like using my credit card for the sake of using it. (Also, you will have to pay with actual money anyway, and if you don't have it, well, it's going to be a pain in the ass.)

And I'm giving more gifts this year. Four for the family, two for the extended family, two godkids, a bunch of colleagues, and Rainy, of course. This is going to be hard.

And then I think of what I might get this year.

And then I realize that I will sound ungrateful.

But frankly, I have had enough of clothes. I mean, I appreciate getting new outfits once in a while, but the catch is, when I get shirts for gifts, they often don't fit my so-called fashion aesthetic. They often look like what I'd buy, or be bought, back when I was an impressionable twelve-year-old. The colors would be too bright and the lettering would be too clich├ęd, and I'd wear it once and never wear it again, and they'd be buried deep in my drawers, never to be worn again until, I don't know, nine months later. And I'd run out of space for when I do buy myself clothes.

And then there's the fact that they can never get my size right. It's always too small. But thanks, I guess, for thinking I am slimmer than I actually am.

Again, I know I sound ungrateful, and I don't mean to. Also, I know I sound selfish. And I will embrace that. I sound selfish because the next things I write will be a bit of a wish list - well, not exactly, because I won't list things down, because frankly, I do not know what I want. I'm the guy who goes to Singapore and takes two weeks to draft a list of albums I want to buy. (Granted, those two weeks involve reacquainting myself with the albums I want to buy, separating them into priority lists, and hoping that I don't see anything else that will distract me from my plan when I actually do my shopping.)

But I do have a general idea of what I want to have for Christmas. Well, duh, I want more books for my lame excuse of a library.

Fiction is all right, as long as it isn't any of the young adult shit. I am, after all, 24, turning 25, and also, I am male.

But I still prefer non-fiction. I still prefer reading essay compilations from humorists and journalists and, well, people who generally can take one subject and look at it a different way. I tend to think I can be like those people, writing about my life in a way that will express my frustrations without annoying anyone. (And, of course, I fail at it.)

I prefer reading relatively expansive accounts of news events or, well, any sort of international trend. You know that thing about never stopping to learn things, even if you're out of school? Yeah, that sounds way too lofty, but I am still interested in learning about why urban planning is important, say, or what the Hudson River way of painting is. (Rainy bought me that book.) I'm the guy who has two books on Watergate, after all.

I prefer reading memoirs of people who I might have heard of in the news, but I don't read certain memoirs because they are people I've heard of in the news. (This is partly why I never had the impulse to buy Dreams From My Father or Living History.) The hook is always along the line of "it's gotta be interesting, it's gotta be different, and it's gotta be a bit exotic".

And there lies the problem. It's hard to buy me a gift. It's hard to buy me a gift if you don't really know what kind of person I am. But then again, that's the problem with giving gifts. You have to make one educated guess, and that one educated guess can cost you a lot of money, especially if the gift ends up being utterly useless and, therefore, re-wrapped and given as a gift to someone else.

Asking the recipient for what they prefer sounds a bit like giving up. That's why I suggested that, for the Christmas gift exchange in my office, we don't have a wish list where people can specify what they want. Last year I wrote "anything by David Sedaris" and promptly got Holidays on Ice, which I haven't read yet, because it's a Christmas book, and it's best to read it on Christmas. This year I suggest that we all just describe our preferences in three words. It forces people to think. It forces people to actually consider what the person might like. It gets us into the whole process.

Me, I'm sort of lucky I am told what they want. "I want leggings," my mother told me, and then, turning to my sister, "I want a blouse." So we'll shop together. All we have to do is pick a look and hope it looks good. My sister always prefers books so it's easier, but harder at the same time, because you have to pick up hints from here and there, without having to ask directly. (This year, however, she told me she wants a daily planner. Job way easier, then.) You know, like a creep. You know, like Rainy, who just showed up one day with, well, The Bedside Baccalaureate, which she bought after I saw it at Fully Booked during one date and got amazed at the concept.

Then again, it's hard to get these hints nowadays, considering how we're at work and busy with our lives and tweeting everything away. "Ew, Justin Bieber," you'd tweet, only to get some legitimate Justin Bieber merchandise. So here I am, risking looking utterly demanding, writing broadly, vaguely, about the books I want to read, something which you'd probably know if you've been reading my blog all these years.

I mean, I could give you a list of CDs - I guess I am a record collector now? - detailing my preferences and throwing in a disclaimer about how most of the artists I listen to have CDs that are not sold here, only for me to get Bastille's Bad Blood. And they're not a band I hate, but they're not a band I love either, which means it will all feel like a waste of time.

Or I could tell you that I want one of those not-quite-fancy iPod speaker docks, but you'll buy the wrong kind and we will all be frustrated. Especially you, because you'll think I'm this demanding, ungrateful, whiny asshole who does not know what he wants.

And your responses...

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