Friday, December 26, 2008

Weekend Assignment #248: What'dja Get?

Most of my recent Christmas-related posts have been of the "uplifting" variety. Let's get a little more crass for this week's Weekend Assignment:

Weekend Assignment #248: What was the most interesting or unexpected gift you received this holiday season?

Extra Credit:
What was the most interesting gift you gave this holiday season?

Here's mine. It wasn't the biggest gift (that was the check from my Dad), but it was certainly the most unexpected one. One of the Weekend Assignment regulars, my friend Julie, sent me the 2008 Tor edition of John Scalzi's first book, Agent to the Stars. I've wanted the book for years, ever since reading about the original online version on By the Way and Whatever. I should have ordered the limited edition from Subterranean Press when it came out, but ah, well. I expect money was tight that year, too. I love the cover on the Tor edition, by the way; it's deliciously retro. Thanks, Julie! You brightened my sparse Christmas considerably.

It's hard to surprise people, though, isn't it? For several years now, John has needed a new iPod, because his old one has become less reliable and less Mac-compatible over time. Every birthday and Christmas I've wanted to get him a new one, but he always knew this, and told me not to do it because of the expense. Another problem has always been John's indecision over the costs and benefits of the various models. But this year there was no attempt to surprise John. When my Dad's check came we spent part of the money on an iPod Nano. The choice was partly based on how much flash memory John truly expected to need and the high cost of the IPod Touch, partly on the fact that the Classic line that he sort of preferred was sold out. Problem solved...

...except for the law of unintended consequences. When we went out to Target on December 23rd for the iPod, I wanted to look at external hard drives. John told me not to, and that was enough to tell me what my main non-cash gift this year was. It's no less appreciated, but it's always better when we don't know that it's coming.

My most interesting gift to someone else hardly counts as a gift at all. On Christmas Eve one of my last Christmas shopping stops was at Traders Joe's, where I picked up this very gothic fantasy/SCA packaged Stone Levitation Ale for John. He likes to sample a variety of microbrews, but would probably not have chosen one that was quite this silly-looking. I got it anyway because the label notes that it was a Gold Medal Award winner at the Great American Beer Festival. And it turns out that the reviews for it are quite good.

Your turn! Tell us about your recent interesting or unexpected gifts. Write about this in your blog along with a link back here, and leave a link to your entry in the comments below. I'll be back in a week with a roundup of your responses. Here are the ones from last week:

For Weekend Assignment #247: Home for the Holidays? I asked about your holiday travel plans. Three of you answered:

Julie said...

I have to admit that Paul and I now enjoy spending Christmas day at home. Back in the B.C. (Before Chris) era, I worked in retail and then in radio, which meant very odd hours. I did get Christmas off in retail, but I volunteered to work Christmas at the radio station (sometimes double shifts) because we didn't have any kids. Once we had a child of our own we decided that we would at least spend Christmas mornings at home.

Becky said in comments...

Apparently, there's no place like OUR home for the holidays this year. Christmas is here for the first time since...wait...this is the first time EVER. I had Thanksgiving here one year shortly after we moved in and that was the last time. Hmm. Maybe my cooking isn't as good as I think it is. Back to cleaning up the house in my usual insane panic mode.

Florinda said...

It seems that for much of my adult life, the holidays have involved travel for someone close to me, although more often than not, the person or people in question have traveled to me and my home, even if that wasn't really "home" for them.

That's it for now! I don't expect a big turnout this week, but I'll be thrilled if you can work in a Weekend Assignment in the midst of your inter-holiday activities. Write about the assignment topic in your blog or journal, and include a link back here. Then leave a link to your entry in the comments below. Please don't forget your links! I'll be back in a week to highlight the results.

A reminder: I'm still running low on ideas here, so I still need your input. What would you like to see as a Weekend Assignment topic? Email me your suggestions (mavarin at If I use your topic you'll get full credit and my undying thanks.



DesLily said...

glad you had a good Christmas Karen!

barrettmanor said...

Karen, I'm so glad you liked the book. I was praying it would get there on time!

Here's my entry:

Call me Paul said...

Stone Ale. I'm jealous. We can't buy Stone products in my neck of the woods, and I've been itching to try me some Arrogant Bastard for a while, now. One day that road trip to Buffalo will happen. One day soon. This I swear.

Becky said...

While not particularly interesting, these gifts were unexpected. I received two books from my MIL for Christmas. One Patricia Cornwall and one JK Rowling (the Beadle the Bard book). I'm not going to bother to check if I've spelled the authors' names correctly. But could it be possible that after more than 20 years together as a couple, my husband's mother has finally figured out my taste/true wants? THAT is the really unexpected part. ;)

Unknown said...

I got some pretty nice Christmas surprises, as it turned out.

Glad you had a good holiday!

Karen Harrington said...

I think my biggest surprise gift was a camera from my hubby. It was one of those items we both said we needed and would get around to getting soon. It was nice that he remembered and took care of it. The best thing about my Christmas was seeing pure, unadulterated joy from my girls (ages 4 and 5) who are at the age where they still see the magic. My four year old kept going back to the hearth to show everyone that the cookies were eaten by Santa, the carrots for the reindeer were also gone and half of the milk in the glass was consumed. I don't think I'll ever forget that.

Mike said...

I got a back-up drive, too. That beer sounds good. I like trying the micro brews when I can as well. Hope it was good.

My post is up as well.