One of the tasks I take on during the holiday season is acting as Alex’s gift coordinator. Around Thanksgiving, his aunts and my mom begin asking me for suggestions of what he would like, and over the years I’ve developed a routine to make sure that gifts won’t be duplicated and that Alex gets presents he has indicated he wants. Since Alex’s birthday falls in the middle of December, we also figure out ideas for birthday gifts along with Christmas gifts. Not surprisingly, Alex eagerly anticipates December since his favorite holiday, Christmas, as well as his birthday fall in the last month of the year. Although he arrived three and a half weeks earlier than his original due date, Alex enjoys having a birthday right before Christmas instead of in January. He likes the excitement, music, and decorations associated with Christmas, and having his birthday in the midst of all that fun is a treat for him. I sometimes think that he believes that his birthday is a season in itself, lasting from his actual birthday through Christmas to New Year’s Day.
Despite his enthusiasm for his birthday and Christmas, Alex rarely makes specific gift requests; therefore, most of his gifts are complete surprises that we have chosen for him. While we have ideas about his current topics of interest, we’re never quite sure how he’ll react to the gifts we have found relating to those favorite themes. Most of the time he seems quite pleased with his gifts, but he is sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer number of presents rolling in for his birthday and Christmas. Consequently, we often suggest gift certificates for him because then he can choose what he’d like himself. He is quite adept at shopping online, finding the best deals on items he wants, and then making selections between the various options. Moreover, he takes his time with spending these gift cards, using them gradually as various things occur to him that he’d like to have. Recently, he spent the last of the Amazon gift card that his aunt, uncle, and cousins sent him last year for Christmas; he had made various purchases of unusual electronic gadgets throughout the year and enjoyed having the chance to select these gifts on his own.
While my parents often come up with good gift ideas for Alex because they know his interests well, we have developed a routine my mom and I call “shopping out of my cart.” Since Alex has unusual interests, whenever I see special things I think he would like, I have learned to purchase them right away instead of waiting and risking their not being available later. Sometimes this leads to overbuying on my part, so my parents will graciously buy the items from me to give to Alex themselves. I help them by shopping, and they help me stay within my planned budget. My sister, who majored in math in college, understands and appreciates Alex’s love of mathematics, so she comes up with clever gifts that reflect their shared love of numbers. Similarly, Ed’s youngest sister has comparable musical tastes to Alex, so I put her on country music detail. When I suggest Kenny Chesney or Alan Jackson CD’s for him, she knows exactly what I mean, which makes it easy for me. Ed’s other sister likes to give him “fun” gifts; therefore, she usually winds up getting games for him. Even though Alex thinks that books are fun, his aunt prefers to select games since she likes to play board games, too. Ed’s brother, who shares Alex’s love of books, often tracks down interesting books and other items Alex likes on the Internet for him. Of course, coordinating and discussing these various gift ideas, especially since Ed’s family lives on the East Coast in three different states, is made much simpler by using e-mail. Alex has no idea how much coordination goes on behind the scenes prior to his birthday and Christmas, but he is very blessed to have generous extended family members who love him dearly and want to make his celebrations the best they can be.
“And we will receive whatever we request because we obey Him and do the things that please Him.” I John 3:22