Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Childhood Gifts

I had the day off today and I decided to spend it Christmas shopping.  I really want to have everything purchased, wrapped, and under the tree by the time my first offspring comes home for his Christmas break.  I would like to be able to spend those last two weeks having fun and doing things with my family, not running around to get last minute presents taken care of.  However, since that’s only one month away, I needed to get started.

As I was walking around the mall checking things off of my list, I was reminded of my infamous Christmas gift from 1983. This particular gift has been referenced in our family each and every Christmas since, often popping up in conversations around birthdays or anniversaries as well.  I’m about to let you in on some classic Reed lore.

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, and gift giving has always been extremely important to me.  While I love to receive gifts, I also love to give gifts to my family.  My parents always fostered this and even before I was earning my own money, they would give me money to go and buy gifts for them and for my grandparents.  When I was a kid, the gifts weren’t necessarily awesome, but I did try to think of things that they would like.  I remember once when I was about eleven years old, my best friend and I were dropped off at the Mission Valley Mall and I had about $20 to do all of my Christmas shopping; I was able to get gifts for my parents and all four of my grandparents at the drug store that was next to May Company.  I was so excited!  That was also the day that I knocked the mannequin over in May Company and broke the escalator and thought that I was going to be sent to jail.  But I digress…

In 1983, when I was eight years old and not old enough to go shopping without a grown-up, my grandma took me to K-Mart to do my Christmas shopping.  While I don’t remember what I got everyone else that year, I DO know what I got for my dad.  As Christmas morning approached, I couldn’t wait for him to open his gift from me.  I was So. Freaking. Excited.  When the moment finally arrived and he opened his present, he smiled, gave me a big hug, and thanked me.  He was now the proud owner of….

The Return of the Jedi Soundtrack.

You know, because he totally wanted that.  Or maybe, just maybe, I wanted that.  Let’s face it, while my pops didn’t mind the movies, there was only one Star Wars junkie in the house and she was eight years old.  I’m sure that, as parents do, he saw right through me.  But my dad is so wonderful; he acted like it was the best present that he’d ever received.  My grandma gets a few props too, for letting me purchase it “for him” and not making me put it back and think harder for something that he’d actually like.

That cassette lived in our brown, VW Vanagon for years.  My dad probably listened to it a time or two; I listened to it all the time.  And by the time the next Christmas rolled around, a new phrase had worked its way into our vocabulary.  Any time that someone in our family gave something to someone else that benefited them (the giver) in some way, it was referred to as a Return of the Jedi Gift.  It’s never said maliciously, and we all really do try to get gifts that the recipient will love.  It’s just our good-natured way of giving each other a hard time.  For example, if Mom bought some chocolate chip ice cream at the store so that everyone could have some, my butter pecan loving dad would tell her that she got us all a real Return of the Jedi gift.  If I went to the store tonight and bought some Peppermint Oreos for “us,” Andy would accuse me of getting a Return of the Jedi gift.  When I surprised Andy with a trip to Vegas for our 5th Anniversary, that was pretty much a Return of the Jedi gift.

It’s good-natured, it’s all in fun, but it’s a constant reminder of my childhood and the parents and grandparents that I was blessed with.

Oh, and the cassette?
Yep.  I’ve still got it.

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