I went to extreme measures to help my parents get the hint: letters placed under their pillows, civil conversations at the dinner table and even huge bouts of uncontrollable sobbing.
That year, I received two pairs of wool socks, two pairs of long underwear, a furry bomber hat and a pair of gloves. No Jon Vanbiesbrouck goalie pads. I was crushed, but I did not die.
When I was 13, for some reason every single boy in my eighth-grade class doused himself with some sort of overbearing cologne in hopes of attracting girls and, well, squelch other less-than-desirable odors. Tommy Hilfiger was the the most popular cologne and it instantly made you cool. Seriously, man, I saw it happen: Cole Zimmerman, Fall '98. OMG. No matter who you were, if you smelled like that, you were in. I wanted to be in. So, I begged, pleaded with my parents to buy a bottle for me. It was an expensive cologne - rightly so, a magical bottle that made a person instantly cool must be - so I needed parental aid.
I went to extreme measures to help my parents get the hint: post-its placed under their pillows, civil conversations in the car on the way to school and even huge bouts of uncontrollable pouting and shoulder shrugging.
I got braces.
Believe it or not, I'm getting to a moral. Simply put, people who love you always know what you want - no matter how subtle the hint. But people who love you also know what you really need.
I didn't need great leg pads to be a better goalie (although they would have helped), but I did need warmer clothes so I didn't catch a cold while spending hours on the ice wearing myself out.
I didn't need Tommy Hilfiger cologne to make me cool (although it would have helped), but I did need braces to make my smile it bit more enjoyable to look at and, in turn, more attractive to people I met (although, at the time, I looked like RoboCop).
This year, when you are looking at long Holiday shopping lists with scores of gifts for your loved ones, consider more than just what they want, but rather what they might need. Show that you love them by getting them something a simple acquaintance would have failed to notice. And in every gift card, remind them to wash their hands.