Christmas (12/14/05)

Dear Zelda,

I have been dating a wonderful guy since October and I think it's starting to get serious.  We haven't said the "L" word (yet) but perhaps that's on the horizon.  With the holidays coming up, I need to find a present that will express just how much I care, yet I don't want to scare him off, as by then we'd have only been dating for three months.  He is a Star Wars fan and likes comic books, movies, and video games. Any ideas for presents? I can't break the bank.

Thanks!

Puppy Love

Dear Puppy Love,

The "L" word wouldn't be... Luke Skywalker, would it? Or light saber? Or even Lando Calrissian? (That's when you know it's SERIOUS.) Your intuition is correct. Three months, although quite an accomplishment, doesn't warrant the same extravagance as, say, a whole year. Remember, though, it's the thought that counts. (Whenever I hear that I always wonder if that's the polite way of saying... “you didn't spend enough, I really don't like it, and I'm returning it tomorrow.”)

If he's a true Star Wars fan, you may be hard-pressed to find that "something special" that every Jedi needs but doesn't have, particularly if you're not familiar with the extent of his collection. The best thing to do is hover close when you're at his place and ask questions without being obvious... you know, explore the galaxy without being detected by the Empire. Star Wars collectibles are big business, and places like eBay will have pages upon pages of these items waiting for you to raise your light saber in a bid for that perfect item that says "I like you a lot, but I'm not a psychopath."

Another great place for inexpensive, fun Star Wars gifts is a specialty website like www.swseller.com, which sells incredible vintage Star Wars memorabilia. Check out the unopened Jabba the Hut Play-Doh kit from 1983 for only forty dollars... I bet he doesn't have one of those! Finally, as "cheesy" as this might sound...Burger King, right now, is offering Star Wars collectible watches with the purchase of a meal. It may not seem like much to you and me, but to a Jedi these could be a very cool little gift or stocking-stuffer, and they show that you support something he loves, and that you're not just "cloning" around.

May the force be with you!

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

Why are people making such a big stink over the phrase "Happy Holidays”? I think it is wonderful that people are finally realizing that not everybody celebrates Christmas. I had a tough time growing up in school because my teachers made us sing Christmas songs (although they never think Santa and Reindeers are religious, they are Christian holiday songs). So now, in stores and on holiday cards, more and more people and companies are saying "Happy Holidays." But many Christians are now up in arms about it. They want to hear "Merry Christmas." Why can't they accept the wonderful greeting and be happy? Doesn't Christianity teach brotherly love and acceptance?

Unbelieve-a-bull In San Diego

Dear Unbelieve-a-bull In San Diego,

You sure picked a hot topic for such a cold time of year! People cherish their traditions, and even the most calloused of us approach the holidays with some soft spot in our heart for memories of years gone by. For me, it's a time to chew through a whole bunch of glittery boxes beneath the tree in our living room, to warm my belly in front of the fire with Zoe and Zee Zee, and to drool over all those delicious holiday aromas coming out of the kitchen.

The holiday season is also a time for all of us to feel young again, and for many people that can be really important. As a result, people can feel protective when they see their traditions challenged or changing. Try to take away the chew toy I've had since I was a pup and you'll see what I mean. But this kind of resistance to change can be damaging, particularly when it's also a resistance to recognizing other people's unique perspectives and backgrounds.

So I say, "To each their own!" Let everyone enjoy the holiday season as they would like! The holiday spirit is all about generosity and inclusiveness, and what better way to show it than to be open to the perspectives of others? To me, "Happy Holidays" is a wonderful expression of inclusion and celebration, and captures the simple spirit of the season without losing its charm and warmth.

At the same time, the holiday season IS a shared experience, and part of what makes us feel like a community at this time of year is not just sensitivity to our differences, but the shared traditions and common practices that bridge these differences. While some of these practices may even have religious origins, as you say, for most people today the flying sleigh and the mistletoe are important, not as expressions of their faith, but as cherished symbols of a time of year when everyone does feel a little closer to one another. So yes, the holiday season is a time to be tolerant of others' perspectives, and using the phrase "Happy Holidays" is a wonderful way to do this. Maybe another way to do it is to be tolerant of those traditions that may not be your own, but still offer wonderful chances to bring people together.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Mele Kalikimaka, and Happy Hanukkah!

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

My mother is in her 70's and she just lost her dog, Molly. I keep suggesting she replace Molly, but she just cries and says she won't live long enough to take care of another dog.  I think another dog is just what my mother needs.  Do you think if I got her a new puppy, that it would be a good Christmas present?

A Daughter's Dilemma

Dear A Daughter's Dilemma,

I'm so sorry to hear of your mother's loss. I'm sure that Molly was an important part of the family, and losing her at a time of the year when family is so important sounds devastating, particularly for someone in a time of life when companionship can be so important.

This is one of those situations where timing is everything. A new puppy under the tree sounds absolutely ador-a-bull, but I'm not sure that your mother is ready yet. Every one of us at some time or another will experience some form of loss, and with that loss comes a "grieving period" where we embrace what I like to call the "3M's" (fyi... it has nothing to do with tape): mourning, memories, and the optiMistic ability to move on. Mourning is an essential part of this process, and unfortunately, the cutest of cute pups, although distracting, may not be the cure-all to mend her broken heart.

It sounds like more than anything, she is feeling scared and lonely right now, and the most important thing you can do for her at the moment is to be there for her as a family. Give her time, love, and support, and she'll come around. When she does, a dog will be a wonderful companion for her (even if she needs convincing that she could take care of it, and that she has many healthy years ahead of her), but right now, it's too much too soon. Forcing her to deal with potty training, feeding schedules, and hiding newfound chew toys (e.g. granny's slippers, etc...) might best be saved until the passage of winter. Warmer weather, blooming flowers, and the wonderful springtime sensation of the earth's renewal is the perfect time to revitalize a sweet friendship with an even sweeter puppy.

A big heart-felt X and O in remembrance of Molly this holiday season,

Zelda