Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The (Electronic) Complications that Men Devise

I'm getting a late start on this blog today for no other reason than I just haven't really had time to sit down. I tried to sleep in a little this morning but, as is usually the case, that didn't really happen. Nevertheless, I think I finally have time now.

I spent the last half an hour trying to find a way to put on some nice, peaceful music for my mother who is currently wrapping gifts. My mother does not like to wrap gifts so I thought it might be quite nice if she got a little festive. Unfortunately, my father has one of those ridiculously complicated set-ups for his media system. Thus, you have to turn on the right combination of equalizers and things to even get a CD to play. After having no luck at this, I gave up only to try one other method of getting a CD to play. It's finally working. I find it rather ridiculous that you have to work that hard to play music. At home, I have a CD player. You pop in a disc and voila!

I've never understood those complex audio systems. I know, they sound better when they have about ten components to ensure the best quality sound. I just find it baffling that there are about five different 'on' switches you have to hit to get a CD to play. I've found, for the most part, it is men who care about this sort of thing, really. I know it's a little sexist but it seems to me that we women tend to like things a little simpler. Sure, we like improved sound quality but if it involves much more than either intuitively knowing how to use the equipment OR following more than a simple set of a-b-c instructions, it's just not worth the bother.

Men, however, will go to any lengths to get it right. They will climb on ladders, take out walls, redesign an entire room just to make things just perfect. At least, that's how the men in my life are. I have learned that the translation for "I have a fantastic piece of electronic equipment and it'll only take an hour to install. It'll be a breeze!" really means "I've got this gadget that someone told me was cool and I'm going to spend the entire day trying to hook it up and I will most likely scream and shout at you by the end of the day because it's not working right."

Nevertheless, there are some times when men are simpler creatures than we are. Take, for example, shopping. Yesterday, my shopper's assistant abilities were called into play by my brother. I think I've mentioned that during the Christmas season, I tend to accompany my family individually to help them pick out gifts for each other. Well, yesterday was my older brother. The day before was my mother. I adore shopping with my mother. She contemplates items, wondering if it's just right, wondering if she should buy it. Not so with my brother. You give him a suggestion and there's little debate. It's more of a 'Right! Good idea! Let's buy it."

And that is how we did at shopping. I'd point out a good suggestion for a sibling, nephew, niece or parent and by brother would simply scoop it off the shelf and buy it. In a way, it's quite fun. There's no argument. Mostly there's a 'do you really think that's a good gift?' If I say yes, the item is bought. If not, he often buys it anyway.

Don't get me wrong, my brother is extremely generous and thoughtful with his gift buying. It's just that he needs a lot of guidance. Otherwise, he ends up buying odd gifts that he thinks are great but we tend to wonder what we'd do with them. For example, one Christmas upon which he did not have assistance in shopping, my mother, sister and I all got those Febreze Scent Story machines. Do you remember them? They had a 'compact disc' of scents that would gently waft out. I think, in theory, they were a cool idea. It's just that the discs cost rather a lot of money and really only lasted about three days before it started to get faint. In addition, they stopped making the scent discs quite shortly after we got the machines so, in the end, we had these nice machines and nothing to do with them. It's not that I wasn't grateful but it was a bit of an odd gift.

The year after, he started asking for suggestions and, for the most part, every year since, I've helped him shop. It's a nice way to bond with him as well as make sure he's actually buying gifts that suit people. Tomorrow, I'll be accompanying my father. This is also a slightly necessary thing to do. I don't know what we're buying but usually it requires some intervention. We always go shopping for things for my mother and if I'm not careful, she always ends up with a stack of books that are comprised of serial books. Unfortunately, my dad doesn't always seem to notice this which is why mum often ends up with book 4 of the series when she hasn't read books 1-3. Also, one year, he bought her this rather, um, hideous clay vase thing that you plugged in and it had a diorama of an angel holding out her arms in it. It was not my mother's taste at all.
Thus, I staged an intervention and, as with my brother, it has now become a fun tradition. We always have lunch then head home for a relaxing Christmas Eve. It's a fun thing to do.

But, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Christmas is all about gifts. It just is part of the holiday. The way I look at it is that it should be a chance to show people you love that you know them, that you care about them enough to find something that they'd like. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes not so much. Yet it should still be a fun experience. For me, shopping with my family is part of Christmas as much as opening gifts.

For now, I have to go check to make sure the music is still playing for my mother. It's gone rather quiet in there. I'm hoping her disc hasn't run out because putting a new one in involves a CD changer that doesn't seem to work quite right. Wish me luck.

Happy Wednesday!

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