Tag Archives: Christmas gifts

Big Bear

When our daughter was born, I splurged on a pink teddy bear whose music box played tinkling lullabies.

I placed it in her line of vision. “Honey, she’s singing to you.”

Baby appeared more interested in shiny doorknobs.

Even as she grew, she took little notice of the prissy teddy.

Several years later, her kindergarten class planned to celebrate Teddy Bear Day, bringing their little buddies to school.

When I suggested Callie take her prissy teddy, she rolled her eyes, but hauled the bear in her backpack.

After school, an odd sight met my eyes. An enormous teddy bear ambled toward me, underscored by thin, little legs.

“Big Bear wanted to come home with me,” Callie explained.

“But — it doesn’t belong to you.”

“Teacher said we could exchange bears for a week. Sarah took mine, and she let me take him.”

Big Bear made himself at home in Callie’s appliance-box house. He starred in made-up plays and musicals. At bedtime check, I did a double take.

Twins in Callie’s bed?

I often messed up carpools. Had I lost track of how many children I’d birthed?

No, Big Bear was bunking with her. Relief poured through me, relief that soon vanished as her tiny arm curled possessively around his large, furry body.

Soon, I had to say, “Honey, Big Bear has to go home.”

Callie stared at me with sad, dark eyes, but returned him.

Christmas was coming soon. Usually, the Santa at our house frowned on extravagant gifts. But when I encountered Big Bear’s cousin at Kmart, I brought him home.

Hiding him from Callie was like concealing a body from the FBI, but the wide-eyed grin that greeted him Christmas morning made Operation Big Bear worth it. In no time, he was singing in basement Broadway productions and snuggling with Callie at night. He smiled from her bed every day.

When she married, Big Bear moved with her to her new home.

One recent weekend, Callie’s ferret-fast son and I were engaged in a pillow fight. Desperate for ammunition, I grabbed the nearest soft object.

Big Bear.

My opponent took gross advantage of my surprise and knocked me flat. Big Bear, ever the sympathizer, stayed by me.

Despite a missing eye, Big Bear had survived little-boy love and numerous pillow wars. Judging by his purple-stained face, someone must have fed him jelly doughnuts — which explained why he appeared as flabby as I. He’d lost padding, though, which I’d found. Not fair.

Still, Big Bear’s presence was strangely comforting. Did Callie — now a strong, loving woman — still sneak moments with him?

Kindergartner, teenager, mom or grandma. Sometimes, we all need a Big Bear hug.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you still cherish a childhood stuffed animal?

Online Santas

The day after Thanksgiving, a friend’s Facebook post evoked 93 envious comments, four offers of psychological help, and a death threat or two. What elicited such passionate response? She dared reveal that she’d wrapped the final gift on her list.

I gave serious consideration to the last reaction, but one of her gifts may be for me.

Like many today, she’d viewed an amazing variety of gifts online.

If a guy craves a purple monkey wrench with a peace sign, he can open it Christmas morning. Those seeking bedroom slippers find pairs online that could fit a native of Neptune, let alone, hard-to-please Uncle Ralph.

Five-inch-thick toy catalogs once dragged home from the mailbox no longer limit little ones’ choices. Now, children who navigate cyberspace better than their parents explore infinite Christmas Wish websites. Some “accidentally” hit purchase buttons without their folks’ knowledge — until five semis dump 42,111 teddy bears singing “Feliz Navidad” in Chinese on their doorsteps.

Internet shopping also promotes less driving. No coats, mittens or car seats. No bloodshed over parking spaces. Pollution-belching cars remain home, while bargain hunters apply gas money to bigger and better holiday gifts for others — plus giant screen TVs for themselves.

Virtual store visitors choose gifts anytime day or night. They avoid hostile store clerks who install trapdoors in front of cash registers.

Certainly, online buyers encounter uncooperative sellers — shopping carts that charge double and helpful sites that publish customers’ credit card numbers on Facebook. But if an annoyed Internet shopper assaults her computer, it can be replaced with no jail time involved — unless she shoplifts one.

Online purchasers avoid traditional Christmas brawls when stores run out of Preschool Techno Marbles or Uber Dogcatcher Barbie. Nor do they wait in line behind 76 other customers, only to discover the computers are down. An online shopper can experience similar computer fun at home with no wait whatsoever.

Internet customers do risk the unknown. A pan-for-gold set might not come with genuine six-inch nuggets, as advertised. Once, unaware a website’s owners couldn’t count, I received a sweater that sported five arms.

Online shoppers also deal with predators who steal identities. However, I wouldn’t mind procuring a new one. I’ll take a twentyish blonde, size six, with an unlimited credit ceiling, please.

Believe it or not, I later discovered my high-tech friend didn’t stick to Internet gift-giving. She’d not only bought presents at downtown stores and personally wrapped them — she’d made several.

Such inefficiency, when in one evening, she could have selected identical presents for 127 people, had them professionally gift-wrapped, then sent in time for Christmas. This, without ever touching gifts or recipients.

What was she thinking?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you like shopping online? Why or why not?