Ho! Ho! Ho!
Unlike our American cousins we in Australia have no Thanksgiving nor Hallowe’en to stand between us and the onslaught of Christmas, so Seasonal¹ decorations are appearing already in our shops. I went in to a supermarket yesterday and found cheap mince pies² on display. So I am gloomily contemplating the task of choosing thoughtful gifts for nieces and nephews about whose lives and interests I am blissfully unaware. They in their turn may soon turn their minds to buying me orange polyester polo shirts one size too small, more gadgets for my overstuffed kitchen, and things that my sister has said she wants.
I have a nephew who bowls quicks in A grade³, but I don’t know what you give a cricketer or what kit he already has in better quality than I would buy. Another is a naval officer and keen on winter sports — my mind is blank. A third is (a) a bit of a dandy, (b) suffering a brain injury, (c) the strongest man in Australian power-lifting, and (d) teetotal. A fourth is mad about SCUBA diving, and teetotal. A fifth is reclusive and farouche — I think he likes beer and cannabis. And as for nieces, God knows what they want (I guess that gift vouchers for babysitting wouldn’t go astray). I don’t know what to give these people, and they don’t know what to give me. There is a lot of SF, fantasy, and RPG material out there and they don’t know which of it I’d like and which I already have.
So, comrades! What is to be done? What can gamers do to guide their muggle relatives towards worthwhile gifts at Christmas? How can we help our loved ones buy us stuff that we will appreciate? Can the madness of gift exchange ever be laid to rest?
Hell is other people!
— Brett Evill
¹ In Australia it is considered seasonally appropriate to decorate with evergreens, tinsel, and imitation snow and icicles — and to eat a traditional English midwinter feast — in 40°C heat. Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun; Australians eat hot ham and plum pudding at mid-summer.
² I quite like good mince pies, such as I make myself. But nothing disappoints like a cheap luxury.
² For Lane Cove Cricket Club.