Sunday, December 6, 2009

How to really surprise your friends and family this Christmas.

Every weekend I like to head down to my local Gametraders to see if any ingrates have traded in some vintage gold. I've been known to stumble across deadstock, European exclusive copies of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (the one that came in the black box) on a good day and even the odd dust-covered copy of Axelay for the Super Nintendo on any other day. It's a little routine i've had in check for the last year or so and i find it both soothing and resourceful, even though Galleria Morley is comparable to an all ages leper colony mental asylum for the overweight and elderly.

Something was different last weekend though. It's generally pretty quiet at the Gametraders end of the mall, but this time around everything seemed a little more overweight and elderly. Children's tantrums were assaulting my ears from angles i didn't previously think were possible, trails of discarded hair followed panicky fathers and their disobedient trolleys, stressed mothers beat the shit out of each-other in the aisles over Twilight paraphernalia and the old people just sat on the seats provided for them, letting out the occasional hiss at any youths that tried to rest their weary legs. Old people only hiss at Christmas, it must be Christmas.

Suddenly, a wave of uncertainty and festivity came over me. Aside from my Birthday, Easter, Winter, Labour Day, Sick days and Boxing Day, Christmas is my favourite time of year. Everyone pretends to be all civilised and cheerful, traditionally dangerous streets are lined with fairy lights for your safety and commercial television goes into overdrive with Christmas themed repeats of all my favourite programs. Christmas is reliable as well, it comes around at the same time every year and it never calls up to cancel the day before because it's girlfriend is being a bitch or it's too hungover. However, a slightly darker side of Christmas has begun to make it's presence felt over the last few years. As i grow older and my arsenal of responsibilities grows larger, the obligation to supply thoughtful presents to friends and family has become a very real situation. A situation that no amount of "oops!" and "they didn't have your size" can save you from.

I am of course talking about presents. I'm not sure where this exchange of materials originated, nor am i yet to learn of it's long term effects, but it's what separates us from the animals and it's recently overtaken the birth of Christ as the main reason to celebrate Christmas. The problem is, i'm not good at it. I've been good at receiving presents for as long as i can remember and people always thank me afterwards for making them feel just right after presenting me with a gift. Sometimes when someone receives a gift they do this little freak out thing and make a way bigger deal out of it then is necessary. Don't do that. It's an obvious over-compensation that leaves the giver of the gift with a sense of failure and the impression that their offering is lacking in the imagination/quality department which is only amplified by the receiver's blatant act. I've seen it go down and it's awkward. When i receive a gift, i snatch it and continue the conversation as if nothing ever happened. Me taking the gift is enough to let the giver know that i am satisfied with it and avoids any possible awkwardness or excess thank-yous.

When it comes to giving gifts, i am way out of my element. I haven't thought about it too much, but it may have stemmed from my 8th or 9th birthday. Ninja Turtles had just become uncool and Streetfighter and Basketball were the new black. One of my friends, who was obviously living in the past, had the audacity to bring me a Donatello (who wasn't even cool when the Ninja Turtles were) figurine with three point movement and bow strike action. He also came with a little slice of plastic pizza which i found to be quite ironic considering Donatello was clearly a pussy and probably only ate organic granola and vegetable burritos. Regardless of Donatello's diet though, the friend in question was sent home for his betrayal with a slice of cake but no lolly bag. We threw sticks at him the next day at school. He may or may not work in parliament now.

Since that day, i've forever been afraid of giving the wrong gift and sometimes just avoid it all together. This isn't as much an indicator of how i feel about that person as it is a sign of respect and how bad i'd feel if i gave them a Donatello instead of basketball cards. The act of un-giving is a great money saver as well. People always seem to stress before Christmas because of all the money they're going to have to blow on trinkets for people that are only going to get intoxicated the same night and forget who gave it to them. Hmm, how should i spend my Christmas bonus? A new book for old Joan down the road or a wireless router for my xbox? Exactly. If i buy myself a big present instead of lots of little things for other people, i'll never forget it. It's a special bond between me and myself and a selfless example of the Christmas spirit. It's not for everyone, but if you're tired of being broke the same time every year, surprise your friends with no presents at all. They'll have become so accustomed to your kind-natured past that they'll just stand there in complete awe, giving you just enough time to creep into the shadows and towards the eski full of free beer and moderately priced champagne.

Your presence is your gift to this world. Be sure to share it with the people you love most this festive season.


faceface said...

The only thing I don't like about Gametraders is the music they play. When it's not techno, it's Linkin Park (slight improvement). I'm fairly sure the introduction of Linkin Park was only because of the new guy too. But otherwise they're really nice.

*completely sidesteps issue of christmas presents*

Me said...

I can't believe you just pointed that out. Every time I've been I'm there 'numb' or some happy hardcore remix of 'forever young' has been playing. I like it though, it's consistent and so much better than walking into those chic garbage outlets playing Ministry of Sound 2006 or the Presets....

Go on YouTube and watch some fan-made final fantasy montages, nine times out of ten they'll be set to a linkin park song. Those guys are the Metallica of the gaming world.

Joel said...

Shit, I haven't been to a Game Traders since roughly early 2008 when the one at Southlands shut down and was re-named "Game Invaders", only to close for good in the next 6 - 8 months. R.I.P Southlands Game Invaders

Me said...

Goodbye sweet prince.

faceface said...

Oh my there's a Gametraders in Morley Galleria shopping centre, I didn't even know that till I saw it today D: