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Dad's catching on


Dad sent me a debit card for Christmas. He sent all the kids the same gift, mailed from the same place. Chris' didn't arrive: it was stolen somewhere between the mailing origination and the post office near Chris' house. I don't know about B's card. Mine arrived just fine, tucked in a card.

I'm strangely excited about this gift. It feels like the start of a school year: full of promise and new beginnings. There are so many things I can do with this card, so many purchases I can make.

I could buy a technical book at Amazon, read it and become more knowledgable.

I could buy an entertaining book, read it and become more relaxed (unless it's one of THOSE, we know how relaxing I find them).

I could pay for an hour massage, and have enough left over for one for Kris - then I would be really relaxed.

I could buy plants at the nursery and plant them in the yard. Every time I looked at them, I'd think lovingly of my dad.

I could buy a plane ticket back to Indiana to visit him.

I could buy a really, really fancy meal for Kris and me (or, just let Mike buy that one).

I could buy stock with the money, watching it grow over the years.

I could buy two dozen or more domain names and continue on my site-a-month goal (this site being the first one I've done, yay, schedule!).

I could buy a stained glass window to hang in front of one of the livingroom windows

Oh, the possibilities are limitless! The choices are all exciting. I've always thought the best gift is one that someone wants but wouldn't purchase for himself. Pretty sure most of those qualify here, since I've cut down my spending from things I want to just the things I need. I've been impressed with how much less consumerism there is in my life, and Kris' buy extension, by not buying stuff on whims. If it'll be used and its necessary, I'll buy it. Otherwise, I'll imagine owning it, imagine the brief joy of ownership, then move on. One less thing to discard later, one less distraction to deal with.

What I find most interesting about this gift from Dad is that the debit card comes with strings attached: I have six months to spend the money, or fees start coming out of the balance. Hefty fees, too: more than 10% of the card's remaining balance a year.

Perhaps that's Dad's way of making sure I actually spend his Christmas gift. I still have the check he wrote to me for Christmas of 1999. It's on pretty yellow paper. Too pretty to cash.