Another Christmas approaches and we're more stuck than ever when it comes to gift giving to Simon. He kind of takes after adult me, as I generally don't want anything or expect anything from others. (In fact, I'd rather you make a donation to GKTW, Human Rights Campaign or your local animal shelter.) I'm not sure if this is personality or environment, or both.
When I was a young child, I remember the printed department store catalogs that came late in the year. There were three: JCPenney, Sears and Best. Remember Best? They had the best toy sections and a generally superior layout. Even the non-toy sections were interesting. I paged through, cover to cover, and remembered it in detail. Every year, I would make a prioritized list of things that I wanted for Christmas, and I usually got the second tier item, since I went knowingly high on the first (except the year we got the Atari 2600). I think the last year that I did this was probably 12 or 13, which is Simon's age now. Every year since, I liked the gift exchange routine less, feeling like it was incredibly transactional. Steph's family used it as a measure of how much you cared, which was extra icky, and I felt bad that she had to endure that. I'm not really that interested in participating in the exchange process at all, and admittedly maybe that's autism related. It's another social contract that seems exhausting and unnecessary.
Simon's world is so different. Obviously he doesn't get catalogs, but he also doesn't have TV the way we did. He watches some stuff on the YouTube, but the ads are not for toys or kid things at all, since he's too young to legally track or target anyway. He doesn't physically go to stores very often either, so he doesn't know what's in the toy aisles at Target. He literally has no clue what the universe can offer.
Of course, we've tried stuff over the years, as any parent would. Once he finally started riding a bike (he started with a used one), we gave him one of those. He's acquired all kinds of LEGO, but many of the smaller sets he's received are still unopened. He bought a toy tow truck once from a neighbor at a garage sale. When he was really little he played a lot with cars and blocks, where we saw the first hint of autism as he lined up cars instead of playing with them. He latches on to things in unpredictable ways. I bought Diana a Transformers Bumblebee before Simon was born (from the movie, an early date for us), and it was always kind of crappy and the limbs fell off. He will still pick it up, whichever parts are lying around, and kind of fiddle with it.
These days, he mostly cares about video and computer games. He's been obsessed lately with... wait for it... Farming Simulator on the Xbox. That comes "free" with our Game Pass subscription, so he just kind of found it. Sometimes he'll ask for add-on downloadable content for games, and I suppose that's about right for his age.
Tonight, he asked me when we were going to take another hotel vacation, or stay a few nights in a local theme park hotel. He often asks about cruises, too. This is delightful to me, because maybe he's adopting our experiences over things m.o. I'm not yet sure if he'll fully appreciate getting off of the continent next year, to a non-tropics destination, but I'm trying to think of ways to spark his curiosity.
You don't get to unwrap a vacation, but I think we're all pretty happy to take one instead of get more stuff.