News and Tribune

December 15, 2013

THE BEST AND WORST: Giving a winner for Christmas is definitely a gift


— Gifts.

There's the good: A new car, jewelry, cold hard cash, a mega-burner infrared stainless steel grill with a kung fu grip and a compass in the lid.

And the bad: The ugly tie, underwear in the style of the 1950s, socks and, as you will see below, a vacuum.

We've all received - and possibly given - those gifts that make us go, “Wow.” There also are the ones that make you say, “Hmm …”

In the end, it's the thought that counts, right? And with that thought in mind, we asked News and Tribune staffers: “What's the best and worst Christmas gift you've ever received?”

BEST GIFT: A Pop-a-Shot. It helped me master my shooting stroke. Too bad Cody Zeller didn't have one growing up.

WORST GIFT: Stomach flu. Some jackleg last year at home infected me. I spent New Year's Eve throwing up for the wrong reasons.

— Daniel Suddeath, staff writer

• BEST GIFT: A trip to a log cabin with my wife and kids: It stands as the best gift ever

because we were on a secluded mountain in Tennessee nestled in a cozy cabin

with just board games and a hot tub. Snow fell on Christmas day to make the

experience even better.

• WORST GIFT: Is there such a thing as a bad gift?

— Bill Hanson, publisher

• BEST GIFT: My new granddaughter this year.

• WORST GIFT: A pink high heel pie/ cake server

— Mary Tuttle, advertising manager

• WORST GIFT: I'm not sure if this really qualifies as a “gift” or not but a few years back while doing the gift exchange at my father's house we all opened our gifts and then my stepmother handed me an envelope as well.

I opened it only to find their final wishes, which was all the paperwork to donate their bodies to science - you know, that place in Indianapolis where they place your body in different indoor and outdoor elements, document the decay and conditions and so on. Merry Christmas! I really think it could have waited a few days.

— Chris Justice, advertising sales

• BEST GIFT: My parents made sure my sister and I got great gifts every year, but the best was probably a trip to Disney World.

• WORST GIFT: This may sound strange coming from a journalist, but it was definitely a dictionary. Hear me out: You're 10 years old, and there's a big, heavy box under the tree. You spend weeks shaking it, trying to identify it. Your mom warns you not to get too excited about it, but that just fuels your fire.

You save it to be the last present you open on Christmas morning, and everything before it was great (minus the socks and underwear, of course). And then finally, after weeks of speculation and anticipation, you slowly remove the wrapping paper to reveal a nondescript cardboard box, and inside that boring box is a leather-bound tome guaranteed to only aid with the completion of homework. It was the dictionary that ruined Christmas.

— Matt Koesters, staff writer

• BEST GIFT: Dec. 22, 1982, when my then 3-week-old son was released from the hospital after being admitted for “failure to thrive.” He had dropped from 8 pounds 11 ounces to 5 pounds 8 ounces in about a week.

• WORST GIFT: An opened bottom of Drambuie with a bit of it missing from my former sister-in-law and a note that said, “I just wanted to make sure it was safe for your consumption.”

— Duke Freeman, advertising sales

• BEST GIFT: “Molly.” My parents gave me my first American Girl Doll “Molly McIntire” when I was a little kid. I loved dressing her up, braiding her hair and taking her out literally everywhere with me. We even looked alike, glasses and all. To this day, she is one of my most cherished toys from my childhood.

• WORST GIFT: Getting my braces off. In what could have been 10 inches of snow, my parents shoveled and trekked our way to the orthodontist on Christmas Eve, where I continued to have several pieces of metal ripped from teeth. My mouth was pretty sore, but on the plus side, I had a great smile for all those Christmas pictures.

— Claire Munn, page designer

• BEST GIFT: I just received an early Christmas present for this year a few days ago, and I don't see how it's been topped in my life. My girlfriend Jessica is sending me and one of my best friends - who also is a baseball fanatic - to Spring Training in March. On top of that, she planned it so we'll get to see my team, the Houston Astros, play his team, The St. Louis Cardinals, on back-to-back days. I expect to come back with tons of memories and more than a few photos.

• WORST GIFT:  This wasn't really given to me, but over one Christmas break in college, the engine of my vehicle totally locked up. It cost about $2,000 to get it replaced, which I'm sure more than the 1986 Chevy S-10 was worth at the time. In fact, it probably was worth less than most gifts I got that year.

— Shea Van Hoy, editor

• BEST GIFT: My first set of Legos. Why: It was the first gift I remember waking my parents well before dawn with the excitement and spirit of Christmas - an experience that is renewed each year with family. Just not before dawn.

• WORST GIFT: A vacuum. Not one that I received, but gave, to my ex. It was a darn nice vacuum, though. Probably why I'm single.

— Jason Thomas, assistant editor

• BEST AND WORST GIFT: In 2007, several days after Christmas, I received both the worst and best gifts I've ever been given. The former resulted in hospitalization, but the latter was delicious retribution. During that time, I was living in North Carolina, and had traveled home to Jeffersonville to spend the holiday with my family. On Dec. 27, my father I were leaving Jeffersonville to enjoy a day of hiking and general outdoorsmanship. At about 11 a.m. we left Interstate 65 north for the long curve of the I-265 exit heading to New Albany. After coming through the curve, we saw two deer jaunting from the grass median into the roadway directly in front of the SUV my father was driving, and I was the front-seat passenger. The next thing I noticed, a deer was resting on top of my feet, and I found myself covered in pieces of broken windshield and hair from the now motionless doe. While my father suffered a small scratch on his index finger, the impact of the deer coming through the windshield cracked a thin layer of skull on my forehead. While it didn't come in a package topped in a bow or wrapped in festive paper, several hours in the hospital and a severe black eye, absolutely, made up the worst gift I've received during Christmastime. It wasn't until New Year's Day when I had the pleasure of enjoying my most cherished holiday gift - a dinner of fresh deer steak.

— Gary Popp, staff writer

• BEST GIFT: The older I've gotten the less importance has been placed on the gifts during the holidays. But it's still hard to forget the excitement I had as a child hoping and getting the thing I longed for. One gift that stands out was a remote control car. At maybe 10 or 11 years old there was little else that could compete with the neon trax car that I rushed out, winter coat over pajamas a la “A Christmas Story,” to take it for a spin.

• WORST GIFT: Also similar to “A Christmas Story” there was always one relative that gave notoriously bad gifts. For my purposes, had I actually put them on, it may have been a far worse outcome than looking like a “deranged bunny rabbit.” The aforementioned gift was underwear, with a cartoon character on them, when I was far too old, old enough to be in a locker room and subject to getting pummeled for wearing said gift.

— Braden Lammers, staff writer