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WHAT’S BEEN UNDER YOUR TREE? …AND, WHAT DID YOU LIKE MOST?
…or, rather, what did you ever find there that you loved the most thus far in your life? Yeah. What is the best holiday present you’ve ever received? I’m curious. Share. Don’t hold back.

I was thinking about this today as I tried to calm my nerves as someone was working what I thought was my last one. (this has not been a great week for me, but it is about to get much better! true. i will be broke and unemployed, but i figure i am quite employable and know that this is the right direction/path for me to take. the timing can’t be helped. …but, i digress…)

The Top 3 Christmas presents I’ve ever received came from my mother. This is a bit of a shocker as my mother is critically gift-challenged. As an example — a few years back I received a large bottle of Tylenol. This year she sent B a fruit cake. She just doesn’t seem to have a knack for knowing what to get someone for a gift. However, it is the thought that counts. And, I do think there is thought there — just not a great deal of gift logic applied.

Still. When you’re five years old and Santa brings you gift wrapped socks and underwear — it is a bit of let down. I don’t think she ever “got” that. The funny thing is that she and I discussed this just recently. I told her that she had given me the three best presents I had ever received. She had no idea that those three presents meant all that much to me. And, in a moment of true honesty she explained that all three almost didn’t happen.

Between the ages of 8 and 11 my whole world revolved around two movies: Ken Russell’s film version of The Who’s TOMMY and Barbra Streisand’s version of A STAR IS BORN. Yes, we all know I was an odd queer child. ….Most likely from the moment of conception. Anyway, I’ve written before that there were no boundaries in my family when I was a child. My father took me to see every movie released no matter the rating or the subject matter. My mother was quite fond of leaving me at cinemas to substitute for babysitters. In the summers I would pretty much live at the movie theaters in my home town. She never cared what I saw — She would walk to the booth, buy a ticket to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, give me $3, hand me the ticket and leave me alone to try and understand what I was seeing on the screen. Despite all the freedom and non-restrictions there was one area in the world of entertainment which left my mother quite nervous: Barbra Streisand.

When I was four years old and demanded that they buy me all of her records and began collecting pictures of the still young diva — my mother knew I was gay. And, she blamed Ms. Streisand.
When THE WAY WE WERE opened I was not allowed to see it. THE EXORCIST? Oh, no problem. FUNNY LADY — that was a fight. I had been dragged to THE GODFATHER movies but FUNNY LADY demanded that I throw fits to get her to agree to let me see it. But, back in 1976 A STAR IS BORN was a big deal. I remember her buying me a ticket to see CARRIE one Sunday afternoon and I saw the poster of ASIB in the lobby. I was 9 at the time I was entering the cinema to watch CARRIE but I was wishing I was 10 already and it that it was Christmas so I could be watching Barbra Streisand in A STAR IS BORN. My mother said “no” — she told me it was a dirty movie and I couldn’t see it. I remember pointing out that I was the only person in the 3rd grade who was being allowed to see CARRIE and she told me that CARRIE was just a silly horror movie. D’oh! …but I didn’t let up.

By the time my bday rolled around in November of 1976 I had pretty much won the battle. A good friend of hers had pointed out that she didn’t see why it would be a problem for me to see ASIB if I had been allowed to see TOMMY, CARRIE and NETWORK. My mother caved. Of course, I ended up catching the flu right before Christmas and we couldn’t go that evening. But, the LP was waiting for me under the tree. For some odd reason my mother had decided to cover the LP in really ugly 70’s wallpaper because she “didn’t approve” of the iconic photo that graced the cover. But, still, I had the record. …no cover, but I had the vinyl and the pretty gatefold pix on the inside. I played that LP till you could see through it. …The following spring we had to purchase a new copy for me. …and a new turntable needle. I kid you not. And, by then, my mother gave up and let me have the LP with the cover, but I couldn’t display it.

Anyway, this LP became my second fave Christmas present of all time.

The third came in the form of this: I searched and searched the Internet and I am ALMOST positive that this is the exact model boom box I was given for Christmas 1981. I love this boom box and played it for years. As a matter of fact I was still playing it when I left for Boston in 1991. This was my third favorite Christmas present. My mother almost didn’t get it for me because she thought 8 Track tapes might make a come back. Luckily, another pal convinced her that this would not be the case. …it came with a cassette of Elton John’s Greatest Hits.

But the best present I ever received was given to me on December 29, 1976. Barely recovered from the flu, my mother took me to a screening of A STAR IS BORN at the Gaylnn Twin Cinema on Calder Street in Beaumont, TX. Mom was sobbing at the end — as were most of the women in the sold out audience. However, everything is bigger with my mother. So, as Babs discovered Kristofferson’s dead body on the side of the highway, my mom had to cry louder than anyone else. She looked like Alice Cooper at the movie’s close so messed up was her make-up.

I was simply enraptured. This is one of the happy memories of my childhood. The next two weeks would be spent explaining the movie frame by frame to my classmates. All of whom wanted to see it, but were not allowed to see R-rated movies. That was a sublime present. Oh, and I got my first erection watching Kris Kristofferson and my mother forever tainted my image of The Captain & Tennille because of it, but that is a whole other posting — in fact, I already posted about it several months back.

Now, what is the best present you’ve ever received? I wanna know it all. Don’t hold anything back! …and, Happy Holidays!

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December 20, 2006. Uncategorized.

18 Comments

  1. ing replied:

    This is a GREAT post! I have to think about it, and then I’ll tell you mine.

  2. Sorted Lives replied:

    LOL, I remember my favorite gifts being an 8-track player and a hair dryer. Do you think I was gay then?? LOL

  3. matty03 replied:

    Ing! I can’t wait to hear! I hope it isn’t something pink given you by your mother for which she had a matching ensemble! I hope not. I have a gift for you under my tree that I hope you will love — it will not ever be your fave, but I hope you will love it. …and, that it will not scare you. Someone is worried it will horrify you. I don’t think it will. I think it will make you smile. Like that Liza LP you keep up in your house! (oops! Was I supposed to share that?)

    Sorted Lives – Wow! You were almost as gay as me! …maybe gay-er. No. I guess not. However, I would have loved to receive a cool hair dryer like John Travolta’s. But, my mother required me to have the standard youngest boy from 8 IS ENOUGH 70’s bowl cut for years. Still, I would usually sneak into her room and use her dryer — which had this odd crimper thing I never really understood. It’s kind of sad that 8 track tapes never made a come back. They were so neat looking. Of course, I remember how much it sucked when a song would break in the middle of a track, fade out and fade back in on the next track.I remember this happened on the Billy Preston/Syretta duet, “With You I’m Born Again” — this would send my mom into a cursing frenzy at the time. Kind of funny.

  4. ginab replied:

    hmm. Hhheerrrm. Oui el post excellente.

    presents…favorite ones? Um, hmm. I’m thinking Paris, one early eve in the murky hours between xmas and new years eve. What a gift.

    -ginab

  5. Old Cheeser replied:

    Matty – mmm I think for me the Millenium Falcon spaceship (from Star Wars) I got when I was about 11-12 years old. I kind of new I would get it for Xmas, but lay awake all night on Xmas Eve getting excited and consequently was really ill the next day cos of my lack of sleep. I ended up being sick cos I was so hyped up. Sad eh?

    And actually I remember my first tape player in about the same year you mentioned – 1981 – 1982 – when they were “in” eh? That was a pretty cool pressie. And getting the tape of Imagination – In The Heat of the Night (English soul-funk group with a tres camp lead singer called Leee John) and annoying everyone to death by constantly replaying it on the aforementioned tape player.

    And probably a year or two later getting my first Sony Walkman!

    Aaaah such memories! Now it’s all Ipods and MP3 players! What will be next I wonder – maybe we’ll get the music beamed direct to our brains!!

  6. matty03 replied:

    Gina — Oh, my! That sounds like a PERFECT Christmas gift! …love the way you always leave me wanting more! I can just fall into your words.

    Old Cheeser! I love that you were so excited about the STAR WARS toy you made yourself ill. I know that is wrong, but I love that level of passion! I want to know that group! I’ve not heard of them! Yes, I’ve a feeling we will be seeing the iBrainChip within the next several years. I plan on drawing the line there. I mean, what happens if I get a bug/virus in THAT chip!?!? Trippy times ahead. …and loads of heat!

  7. ing replied:

    I know ginab’s Paris story, and let me tell you, I WANT ONE OF THOSE!!!!!!!!!

    Guess what arrived in the mail!

    THE BEAVER TRILOGY!!!!!

    I have to go to spin class, so I’ll tell you my story later, okay?

    xoxoxsoxoxxoxoxoxoxox (I don’t know what the “s” is for).

  8. no milk replied:

    the best present i got was when my mom gave me $20 for christmas when i was a kid. that was just awesome! i went out and bought 4 records. this was in the 80s. LOL

  9. ing replied:

    Which records?!

    My best present was skis, poles, and a pair of red boots. My second best was three months of lessons at the roller rink, where they had a Ms. Packman machine. I bought my skates & outfit with babysitting money.

  10. ing replied:

    Oops! I mean, Pac-Man.

    Duh.

  11. matty03 replied:

    No Milk! Do you remember what records you bought? That would be cool!

  12. matty03 replied:

    Ing! Red boots!!! Yay! Do or have you ever ski’d? Neat! Wow! I remember Pac-Man! …and, roller disco. Whenever I hear “September” by Earth Wind & Fire I have the desire to rollerskate and do funny movements with my arms!

  13. hot-lunch replied:

    you are so cute i can’t stand it. that was a very touching sweet story…

    best xmas gifts… i usually get jacked on my gifts cause my birthday is January 5th, so people feel like they can double up. oh lookie loo, a combo gift! lucky me!

    i don’t know about xmas, but the best GIFT i’ve ever received was for being my friend’s maid of honour, in which she gave me a big basket of goodies, including a gift card to Value Village. that brought me endless nights of hunting and high and low for used treasures. hours and hours of fun. By far the best gift ever.

    merry xmas!

  14. Me replied:

    hmmm, the first thing that came to mind was my Barbie Camper. I wanted a life size one that I could travel around in, throwing glamorous Barbie parties. But maybe not. It seems like there must have been something better but I think I’m flumoxed by the bottle of Tylenol and the fact that your mother thought 8 tracks might come back. I love her.

  15. matty replied:

    Hot Lunch!!! Merry Christmas!!! Now, what is Value Villiage!?!? Where is it? It sounds fun!!!

    Ing – It just hit me that you HAVE the beaver trilogy! yay!!!!!

    Loveley Meredith! You are a girl after my own heart. There’s nothing better than Barbie excepting Hello Kitty or being covered in chocolate and having some hot stud muffin lick it off you. Other than that — Barbie wins!

  16. hot-lunch replied:

    egads! they don’t have Value Village in San Francisco? It’s a secondhand thrift-store… hours of fun for me! there’s nothing i like better than rootin’ through other people’s garbage! Weeee!! merry xmas!

  17. Karyn replied:

    Ummm… as a kid – I got the Grease Soundtrack! Woohoo! ON VINYL! LOL! As a teenager, I got a word processor / typewriter thing. As an adult? Diamond earrings.

  18. matty replied:

    Hot Lunch! No! I checked! We don’t have any here. I am most jealous! I want to experience one!

    Karyn — I love it! That’s great!

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