Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A present for me?

If you're looking for something to get me as a present (whatever occasion)... the best thing for me right now is money: the United States of America's designated currency, the American dollar. I thought long and hard about posting this because I feared people would think poorly of me for presuming that I in any way deserved a present. So, let me say this... if you don't think I deserve a present and/or you weren't thinking of getting me a present... ignore this post from the perspective of me. Instead, think of it from the perspective of some other person with young kids that you may have been thinking of giving a present to in the near future.

Presents, traditionally, have been given as a way to reflect how much you know about the person. That is the purpose of measuring whether something is a "good" gift for someone else... because it is typically seen as a reflection of how much you do, or don't, know about the person.

Warning: this paragraph is very me specific. I will save you some heartache over the situation. First, if you feel compelled to give me a present, that is enough for me. I don't care how "well" you know me. The fact that you want to give me a present says enough about our relationship. Additionally, I am a difficult person to comprehend what I'm "into" at any given time. My topics of interest vary broadly from day to day. One day I may be totally immersed in CSS while the next I might be reading everything I can about new circuit board industrial design techniques. The next day I might be trying to figure out how to build a solar cooker. This is further complicated by the notion that I get whatever I can for free. That means that if I can find it for free (legally) on the Internet, I'm probably consuming it there first. That said, there are definitely some things that just can't be obtained for free. For example, I can't find any sweaters, polo shirts or khakis (the style of pants, not necessarily the color) for free. If you know where to find them for free, please, tell me. Now, with that said, I have a wardrobe that is too large right now. I don't need clothes (so don't buy me any!).

Right now I need two things that are in the shortest supply: money and time. You might say, "well, that's not fair! I want to give you something that you'll hold onto and cherish for the rest of your life!" The simple fact is that there are very few things that are likely to do that for me that I can hold in my hand. Quite frankly, none of them are anything that you can give me. That might sound snobbish and/or harsh... but stick with me.

I have two young boys. Dr. Randy Pausch put it best when he said this (or something like this, I'm paraphrasing): "when you're young, trade money for time so you get more when its most valuable. When you're young, your kids are young. Pay someone to mow the lawn so you can do something fun with your kids." I hold the time that I spend with my kids very dearly. While I might use the money to pay off debt rather than pay somebody to mow my lawn (our neighbor mows our lawn for us with his riding lawn mower for free), I'm still trading money for time. I will use it to earn more time with my kids by paying down debt. Paying down debt moves me closer to being able to take extra days off from work for camping vacations and so many of the other things that I want to do with my boys.

So, if you're thinking of giving me a present, give me time by giving me money.


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