Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Shopping for the Grandkids

This column originally appeared in the Sun Chronicle on Friday, December 7, 2012

By Bill Gouveia

It’s Christmas time, and the pressure is on. For this proud grandfather, that means searching for the perfect gifts for my two perfect grandchildren. But that is not as easy as it might seem.

My beautiful granddaughter Avery is not quite nine months old, so shopping for her first Christmas will be relatively simple and a lot of fun. When kids are under the age of two, you can pretty much give them some loose wrapping paper and they will be thrilled. But I intend to continue the spoiling of my little princess this Yuletide season. There appears to be no end to the many wonderful and annoying toys I can buy her, that her exasperated parents will have to truck back to Baltimore. I can’t wait.

Now my grandson Will (did I mention his name is William?) is a different story. At the ripe old age of 4-1/2, he is getting a bit more discriminating – and expensive. Since he has the vocabulary of a college journalism major, he has no difficulty expressing exactly what it is he would like Santa to bring. The problem is I generally have no clue what he is talking about. I am out of touch when it comes to what kids his age like these days.

I recognize the names of some of the popular toys on his list for Santa, but those are the ones his parents are already getting. That leaves me listening to Will’s description of toys I have never seen and don’t understand, or being presented with the “wish list’ of stuff he figures he has a better chance of getting from Grandma and Grandpa than Santa.

Last year we asked him what he wanted for Christmas, and thought he asked for an iPad. Turns out what he was really saying was he wanted an “eye-patch” like a pirate. We were happy to comply with that wish. This year, there is no misunderstanding his words. He now wants the real thing. And truth be told, he knows how to operate my iPad better than I do. His mother’s iPhone might as well be his, because he uses it as much as she does.

I have already bought him lots of sports equipment, including a baseball glove and bat. Right now he’d rather watch a Disney movie than a football game, and we’ve given him plenty of those too. He loves playing video games, though soon he may start to realize he’s really not winning all those Mario Kart races. Dinosaurs and dragons have been popular up to now, and I’ve loaded him up with action figures and Ninja Turtles.

Grandma does most of the Christmas shopping in our household, leaving me to concentrate on the fun items for the grandchildren. She buys clothes and the other boring but necessary stuff, while I lay claim to the more glamorous side of present-shopping. Of course, she will buy a considerable number of toys for our two grandkids also. But she graciously allows me to go out on my own and try to feel good about myself, though she holds her breath the whole time just trying to imagine what I might bring back.

I am already worrying about future years, now that I have a granddaughter. With two sons and a grandson preceding her royal arrival, I have little to no experience shopping for a young lady. Grandma has already bought enough dresses and those hair/headband things to outfit her for quite a while. I’m perfectly willing to get her the stereotypical dolls and stuff (insert Neanderthal/chauvinist comment here), but she has and will continue to get plenty of Patriots/Red Sox/Celtics/Bruins apparel and souvenirs from both of us.

Of course, more important than what we buy is the fact we have these amazing grandchildren. Avery has recently started to crawl, and Will is correcting my grammar. They are growing up before our eyes, and being a part of it is one of the great experiences of our lives. This holiday will be extra special.

But I’m still determined to go out and find some very special gifts for these very special little folks. If you have any ideas, you know how to reach me.

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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