The marketing geniuses of the United States of America have pitch perfect timing and so when I asked some of my sons' friends what they wanted for Christmas, it didn’t surprise me when most of them said, “The new [insert name here].” Even if your kids already have an X-Box or iPhone, they can ask for the latest version.
My kids don’t have an X-Box but that’s another blog post. They do have an impressive bunker of Apple products that is due mostly to birthdays in October, generous relatives and a father who values the latest technology above almost anything else. I purposely deny my sons things they ask for unless it is critical to their health or safety (shoes that are too small, for example) so I will have something to give them at Hanukah and Christmas.
First Born Prince (FBP) was shivering in the car next to me this morning (the climate control panel read “48”). He was wearing a t-shirt and shorts.
“Where is your sweatshirt?”
“I told you. I don’t have one.”
“You have three or four of them.”
“The sleeves are too short.”
He has a closet full of XL sweatshirts and dress shirts that fit him in the body but not in the arm length.
"Just push the sleeves up, like how we rolled the sleeves up on your dress shirt.”
He rolled his eyes and jumped out of the car.
I didn’t want to spoil the surprise and tell him he is getting two beautiful new XXL sweatshirts for Christmas. I also didn’t want to leave myself scrambling like a methamphetamine addict trying to find something to give him if I handed the sweatshirts over early which is what he is working towards. Obviously.
I know I am onto something because this past Hanukah I managed to surprise and delight him with relatively simple gifts they would have otherwise gotten out of me “for free” but I had the presence of mind to withhold from them until now. They got things like word search and crossword puzzle books (my fourth grader has been asking for them since school started), new basketballs, and a foam roller (my 8th grader has an old one that is too-soft and has bites missing from when Charming Baby (CB) was two years old that he uses regularly on his hamstrings and back).
The best gift I came up with was a few weeks ago after FBP asked me where the measuring tape was and if we had any tape that would stick to concrete. He wanted to mark off shooting lines under our basketball hoop in the driveway. Both of my sons are really into basketball. I was able to tell him, “Sorry” with a straight face, not volunteer to dash off to the store for specialty tape and hope he would forget about it. I then found a stencil kit with pavement paint online and ordered it for Hanukah.
When the kit arrived via Amazon Prime, I was nervous. It looked tedious. I certainly didn’t want to read the instructions and do all of that measuring and lying out of a pattern. My Home Economics sewing class in middle school was enough to last me a lifetime. I feared FBP would open the gift and balk at the three hours of labor I had just presented him with. Then a miracle happened. His eyes lit up and he was really excited.
As luck would have it, the following day was a minimum day for him at school (I did not plan this) so he had extra time for the project. He and his brother very carefully followed the instructions. When no tape we had would work to hold down the pattern paper, CB ran into the house and got his wooden blocks (another stroke of dumb luck, I almost donated them to Goodwill last week but then decided to keep them at the last minute).
CB and I had to leave before the work was finished to go to basketball practice and I panicked about leaving FBP alone with a can of spray paint in my driveway. I was sort of bitchy as I said, “Why did you start this right before I had to leave? You better not get paint all over the place!” He ignored me and I drove off figuring it was a disaster and I was a fool.
Two hours later I was at the mall, in the middle of the new Tevana store, sampling one of Oprah’s favorite things when the text arrived, “Time to play.”
A huge grin and $30 worth of Maharaja Chai Oolong later, I picked up CB at the JCC and raced home. Even though CB had just played bball for two hours and was tired and still had homework, he was so caught up in the excitement of celebrating the finished half-court, he shot with his brother for another hour after dinner.
FBP was proud of himself and CB was happy his older brother was including him. Actually more than including him, FBP needed him or all the papers would have blown away. It was a two-man job.
Now they want outdoor lights for their new evening pastime. I am thinking Santa might be a good one to ask.