A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, December 07, 2007

Uncle No and the Gift of Disappointment

Soon I will have to decide what to get my nephews for Christmas. They are past the age of most toys and have moved on to playstations and DVDs. I would love to get them books each year and encourage them to read. Unfortunately, one of them doesn’t care for books too much, and God forbid if you don’t give both boys something from the same gift category.

The oldest one has blonde hair like his father had at one time, and he is maturing nicely. The youngest one takes after his mother’s side of the family as far as looks go, and he is a very fussy eater. I am convinced that, if it weren’t for his parents prodding him to eat, that he would be the first American child to starve to death at a Thanksgiving dinner. Together they act like typical brothers, which means that it will be a miracle if they don’t kill each other before they reach adolescence.

Over the last few years, I have resorted to gift cards for their Christmas gifts. This way they are not disappointed with something that I have carefully selected, paid for, and wrapped. Okay, I can see them being upset at my wrapping job; it is one skill I have never fully mastered. As for the rest of the gift, they should be happy with what I give them.

Or perhaps I should go full circle in the other direction and give the gift of disappointment. After all, this is something they’ll encounter more often in their lifetime than happiness. They will need to learn to deal with it sooner of later. It would — as the old cliché that every grown-up has ever said — build character. We’re all familiar with character development. It’s that quality that allows us to accept the outcome of any situation whenever life takes a dump on us.

This would also fit in with my persona or how they perceive me. Their parents have seen to all of their needs – a house, food, clothing and toys. I, on the other hand, do not hesitate to use the word “no” whenever they ask me a favor. I wouldn’t be surprised if they call me “Uncle No” under their breath.

NEPHEWS: Uncle Todd, can we sit on your tractor?

ME: No!

NEPHEWS: Uncle Todd, can we jump off the stair landing in your living room?

ME: No!

NEPHEWS: Uncle Todd, can we go play in traffic?

ME:, yeah. Go ahead! (What the hell! You can’t say “no” all the time!)

Yes, I could wrap up a small box, present it to them, and watch their jaws drop when they find nothing inside the box but air. This won’t cost me a cent, except for the box and wrapping paper. I’m sure this would be a memorable Christmas moment that they will cherish all their lives, or at least when they recount it during endless hours of psychotherapy.

I can imagine them sitting on the therapist's couch now, telling how Uncle Todd gave them nothing but an empty box for Christmas. Then they would explain how they each kicked me in the shins and watch me collapse in pain, before they took turns rolling me around on their living room floor. This would be easy to do since I’m a bit on the roly-poly side. Yes, this would indeed be a big moment in the development of their characters. Best of all we’d get a chance to do some real bonding!

Perhaps I should give the gift card idea some more thought.


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