It's that time of the year... and I really hate being asked for a gift list. ;)
If someone sees something they want me to have, I will appreciate it. Please don't ask me to tell you what to buy. To me that's just you saying you don't want to think of me more than you want to cross my name off of a list. It truly is the thought that counts to me.
Having said that, I've received gifts that have left their mark on me.
The first was a toy I still have after nearly thirty years gone by. My Dad was in the Air Force when I was growing up. We were coming back stateside from Japan just before Christmas in 1979. All of our stuff had been crated up and was taking a slow boat while we were living out of suitcases and holing up with my grandparents as Dad got out of the service. Mom and Dad had known our move home would interrupt Christmas and had planned ahead mailing toys home ahead of us... this was back when the mail could take weeks.
Under the tree that Christmas was the coolest toy ever; a remote controlled R2-D2! There was an American rc R2, but it only had two legs and was cloudy white plastic with a dull silver dome head; totally lame by comparison. My plucky little droid is -still- bright white with dark blue stickers and a mirror-chrome top. He's got -three- legs and his head swivels when he rolls around stopping on command and -shooting- tiddlywink discs! I still have him in his original box. A few years ago I had him appraised at $1400 for a Discovery Channel show but, to me, he's priceless because Mom and Dad had gone to so much trouble to make sure I had him for Christmas that year.
The second gift was a Snap-on 1/2" breaker and a tin can with some sockets in it. When I opened them, I did not understand what they were. Obviously they were tools, but they were clearly worn not to mention they were sizes I already had. Then my folks told me where they'd come from.
Officially, my grandfather died on my 21st birthday. He'd had a stroke several weeks prior and the family rushed to Florida from all corners, including my aunt who had been deployed to Riyahd during Desert Storm. Grampa had been looking us in the eye and able to blink yes and no but was otherwise completely disabled by the stroke... it was heartbreaking. My grandmother told him all their kids were there and she would be okay and when she told him he could stop fighting, he stopped responding to us. I feel that was when he passed despite the agony of the bureaucracy of stopping life support; which he'd been put on with complete disregard for the papers he had signed himself when he was originally admitted for a minor stroke. The major stroke happened in his hospital room.
My grandfathers' tools were supposed to have been split up and passed on to each of his grandsons; a fact I never knew. It had been hidden from me because my uncle had run completely roughshod over his parents home, his own mother's home, taking things before any of Grampas' wishes could be carried out. This heavily damaged my uncle's relationship with his sisters and, to this day, is still a tender subject. My uncle pawned nearly all of the tools I and my cousins were supposed to receive.
Somehow my aunt and her husband wound up with the breaker and the sockets I was holding in my hands. Years had gone by before they came across the tools in a stateside move of their own (Air Force too). They felt these few tools ought to go to me. As my mom told me who they'd belonged to, how they'd escaped the hands of my uncle, and that they were supposed to have been mine many many years ago, I broke down.
Those old sockets and the patina'd breaker bar now hold a very very special spot in my toolbox. They've turned fasteners on my and my friends cars now and made a few trips to different paddocks with me. I think of my grandfather every time I see them and I can feel he is happy knowing they're finally in my hands.
Here is a picture of an Artoo like mine. Give me some time and you may get to see those tools in use on one of your cars.