Gift of the momgi

Curse you Magi. If it weren’t for you, traveling from afar with your exotic gifts for the baby Jesus, me and other slacker parents the world over wouldn’t be in the anxious predicament we find ourselves in now. Who gives precious metals and tree sap to an infant anyway? Seems dangerous, not to mention everyone knows babies just like to play with the cardboard box the gift comes in anyway. Think of the dough you could have saved, not to mention shlepping it all from the Far East. Some “wise men” you are – although I will admit the consumer frenzy you helped spawn is nothing short of pure, capitalistic genius.

I mean how else can you explain the power to turn normally sane adults into rabid scavengers, scouring late-night web sites and megastore shelves for the latest and greatest gadgets, gizmos and gear? Remember the Cabbage Patch Kid craze of the ’80s? I’m pretty sure people died in the quest for the coveted and curiously scarce toy du jour. It’s one thing to stampede for a front-row seat to see Pete Townshend (pre-child porn allegations) or the Pope. But for a creepy, melon-headed doll with a fake birth certificate? Downright deranged.

Anyway, in hopes of avoiding some sort of similar debacle this year, I propositioned my clan that instead of asking Santa for yet another worthless pile of “As Seen on TV” abominations, we opt for something simpler and less plastic-intensive.

“Why don’t we ask Santa to instead give us a trip somewhere fun?” I said in my most convincing and authoritative mom voice. “What’s really important is not all the stuff, but spending time together,” I continued, as I warmed them up to a little beach scenario: sun, sand and maybe some well-deserved surf time for mom and dad. Plus, I pointed out, the gifts of years past seldom lived up to their expectations. “Remember the ‘Bendaroos,’ buddy … or how about the Wii,” I said, gesturing to the dusty cabinet that held a small brown bag containing the rarely used console and controllers.

I think they were just about to bite when someone started poking holes in my well-formed strategy. “Yes, a trip would mean no presents,” I admitted. “The trip would be our present.” Needless to say, the idea was shot down faster than Santa’s sleigh by a MIG-3, the visions of waves dancing in my head instantly going down in flames.

Alas, I was eventually handed the traditional lists carefully scrawled out in permanent marker. And I will say, with the exception of the “fairy dust,” the 5-year-old’s demands were quite reasonable (except for the I-Pod Touch, which obviously involved coaching from her older brother, an automatic grounds for dismissal.) Stickers and pens were a no-brainer, and the “lion necklace” and “butterfly” while a little more obscure, were definitely attainable.

As for the boy, he has enough years under his belt by now to not only look the gift horse in the mouth, but reach in and grab a firm hold of its tonsils. Suffice to say, he is every infomercial and marketing guru’s wet dream, and over the course of the last few weeks, I have been beckoned countless times from far flung reaches of the house by scream of urgency typically reserved for small fires, broken limbs or first-degree murder. “Come quick … Hurry!” he screams as I drop what I am doing and inevitably arrive on the scene too late. “You missed it! It was the (insert ‘Big Top Donut,’ ‘Sparkle Play Foam,’ ‘Mindflex,’ ‘Shake Weights,’ or other contrived scams here) that I want for Christmas.”

At least he’s straightforward, which I think he must get from me. Call me materialistic, but by July, I’m dropping little clues, and by December, my hints are about as subtle as eight reindeer prancing on your head. OK, so it takes some of the fun out of it, but it’s not like I expect to get an extra bathroom or full-time maid anyway.

Which is more than I can say for the remaining family member, who typically offers no clues other than a trail of crumpled socks and plaid shirts. Suffice to say, without so much as a road map to go by, I often stray far from the destination, lost in a wilderness of last-minute mania, clearance racks and stimuli overload. It typically ends with me scooping up whatever avails itself before they kick me out and slam the doors shut on Christmas Eve. And as ill-conceived as some of those temporary-insanity gifts may be, the gift of laughter from the giant, orange pullover cable sweater or the massive Flavor-Flav wristwatch is something that will keep giving for years to come. Which might explain why I am currently torn between the electric coffee mug, gun-shaped barbeque lighter and bacon wallet. Heck, maybe I’ll just get all three. Sure, they’re not exactly gold, frankincense or myrrh, but maybe those Wise Men weren’t so clueless after all. Sometimes, it truly is better to give than to receive.

– Missy Votel



In this week's issue...

July 21, 2022
Wildlife success or deal with the devil?

Land swap approved in Southwest Colorado, but not without detractors

July 21, 2022
Tapping out

The latest strategy to save the San Luis Valley's shrinking aquifer: paying farmers not to farm

July 14, 2022
Hey, good environmental news

Despite SCOTUS ruling, San Juan Generating Station plans to shut down