Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Birthdays, Christmas and the Gift-Giving Blues

So, yesterday was my birthday. (Example of one of many conversations I've had at work: Thanks!... Yup, 23 now... Oh, you. You know, I actually HADN'T yet heard a joke about how young I am! Good one!)

My day started out with J giving me a bottle of my new favorite wine (that is impossible to find anywhere but Saratoga, CA and Cincinnati, OH for some reason) and a gift certificate to a Lincoln Square cheese shop, The Cheese Stands Alone. This boy knows that the fastest way to my heart is getting me liquored up and then stuffing me with dairy.

What made this gift all the better was that I didn't want anything this year for my birthday. I couldn't think of a single reasonable thing I wanted. The list of unreasonable things (tickets on Emirate Airlines to Dubai, an all-winter vacation back to Puerto Morelos, a personal massage therapist...)--that was easier.

Things seemed simpler when I was younger and things were black and white: I want this, I don't want that. I still have these vague recollections of my childhood and the things I wanted:

  • a yellow teddy bear
  • chili soup made by Mom
  • Tinkertoys
  • Winter Ball Barbie 1991 (I got three--one from my parents and two from different friends at my birthday party. Talk about awkward.)
But, like any of us when we age, I simply cannot think of what kids want today. I don't exactly have my ear down to beating pulse of Saturday morning cartoon advertisements and I interact with children on like a weekly basis via sloppy smiles over booths at restaurants or waves on the El.

So, now I'm facing a big problem. I signed up for the Chicago Sun-Times Santa Helper Program. Aayliyah, age 9, "good scheduet at school" and avid chore-helper at home, has written the following:
Dear Santa,
I am nine year old. I have been a good girl. I have been very good scheduet in school. I have done all of my chores at home. Santa would you please have some dolls and a doll house. And can you give me biary you can put a password in so nobody but me can read it. And a doll cars.
Underneath, she drew a picture of six kids singing around a fireplace. Really, this picture is what got me. It's just what my coworker calls "North Shore white guilt"--this girl is really sweet, an artist, AND (the ultimate!) she edited her writing. Underneath the scraggly words are more, slightly-erased, scraggly words. It is cute.

After a brief search on Toys R Us, I found this Password Journal by Radica. It's $22, has got the password, a diary inside AND secret compartments. Perfect, right?

NO. The overall user rating is 2.5 stars, with one of the most recent reviews threatening to strangle the guy who made the toy.

So here is my dilemma: Do I get this girl what she wants, regardless of what crap it may be? Regardless of how soon it will break? Regardless of the fact it may not work at all? Or do I get her a regular old lock-and-key diary? Or do I scrap it all and just go for the doll stuff? Advice welcome.

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