Article Date: 12/1/2010

At This Most Wonderful Time …

At This Most Wonderful Time …

… I think a lot about gifts. And I'm not going to change now.

From the Editorial Director, Jim Thomas

For millions of people, especially those 12 years and younger, this season is about gifts. And why not? Everyone encourages kids to ask for stuff. We even tell them to ask a stranger — the old guy dressed in red at the shopping mall. Santa's helpers photograph the event to provide the child with a record of the transaction.

So, as a kid, I expected gifts that lived up to the hype. At age five, I asked for a tape recorder. (For those of you born after 1980, a tape recorder is a bygone version of an MP3 player, except it weighed 7 lbs. and offered the sound quality of a bus station public address system.)

On Christmas morning, I played it cool and opened a few boxes before opening that dream gift.

“Look at this!” I exclaimed, holding up the tape recorder box.

“If you read the label on the wrapping paper,” my mother said, “you would have known that that's not yours — it's your brother's gift.”

I learned my lesson. The next year, I asked for only one gift: a toy Fireball XL5 rocket launcher. (Check out the amazing videos of the Fireball XL5 TV show on, and you'll know what I'm talking about.) When Christmas morning arrived, I got a bunch of junk I didn't want (clothes) and yes, the greatest toy rocket launcher ever.

My younger sister, who was almost two years old, also took an interest in the launcher. The next few minutes seemed like an eternity, as I blocked her from touching my prized possession. My struggle ended abruptly when I slipped on a piece of wrapping paper and landed on the launch pad, smashing it to pieces.

North Pole, we have a problem.

Older, no wiser

At my first job out of college, our office had a holiday gift swap. To impress my colleagues, I bought one of the finest $20 bottles of wine available. Surely, whoever chose this gift would appreciate my good taste and sophistication. At the swap, I hit paydirt: My boss selected my wine from the pile of gifts.

When he opened the gift box, he was delighted. “Get me a corkscrew,” he said. “Let's chug this, and then we'll open a six-pack of malt liquor.”

The years haven't changed me: I still want gifts. But the gifts changed. It's not about rocket ships or impressing people (at least not all the time). It's about smiles from kids, a good friend's handshake or a hug from a loved one. It's also about taking the time to share the many gifts I received from my family and friends.

On behalf of the staff at OM, may this holiday season shower you with these precious gifts. OM

Optometric Management, Issue: December 2010