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January 23, 2014 8:40 am

Finishing up my Christmas shopping

Written by Don Amend

I suspect most, if not all, readers of this column have put Christmas behind them.

After all, Dec. 25 was almost five weeks ago, and even the 12 days of gift giving celebrated in that irritating song have come and gone. It’s well into January now, and February is approaching.

Even so, Christmas isn’t quite over for me, because I have one more Christmas task to carry out — I need to use a $25 gift card at Amazon.com. That might seem like a simple task, but I’m having some difficulty.

This is not a complaint about receiving a gift card. It’s really quite thoughtful of the giver, and besides, we gave some people gift cards this year ourselves.

The thing about a gift card is that it’s always the right color and size, so you rarely have to stand in the return line at some store the day after Christmas.

Nor am I averse to online shopping, which has become pretty routine in modern life. I still prefer to go into an actual building, preferably one near my home, and buy from an actual person in a store that advertises in the newspaper that pays me, but that’s not always possible.

My last online purchase, for example, was a recording of “Ma Vlast” by the Czech composer Bedrich Smetana, from iTunes. Maybe I should have checked around, but I rather doubt I could have found such a recording in all of Park County, unless there’s a musical connoisseur out there trying to thin out his pile of CDs.

But buying that recording was much easier than making a foray into Amazon.com to find my own Christmas present. When I pushed the iTunes Store button, I knew exactly what I wanted, at least in terms of the title I was looking for just then.

I had heard the piece on public radio that day and was inspired to add it to my library. All I had to do was choose from performances by three or four orchestras.

By contrast, this time I have to figure out what I could buy, and Amazon certainly gives you plenty of choices. The company seems to have just about everything in the world stashed in its myriad warehouses.

A possible exception in their stock is a selection of mail-order brides, and I’m not even positive about that.

Fortunately, I’m not in the market for a mail-order bride, but I’m not in the market for most of the other stuff I can find on Amazon’s website, either. I already have too many things attached to my computer, so I don’t need anything from that department, and, while I’m not taking many pictures lately, I am spending a big chunk of time sorting through those already taken and trying to organize them logically.

So those two categories are off the shopping list.

I’m not in need of anything to wear, go camping in, or exercise in. I wouldn’t benefit from anything in the beauty products line, and my wife does all the yard work and cooking, so she can buy her own stuff for those activities

So, when I first went on the Amazon site, I looked at books, which I suspect is what the giver of the gift had in mind when she bought the gift card. I quickly eliminated them from my shopping list. There are 10 or 12 books, one of them a half-read book that was interrupted by an adventure in surgery last February, on my “to be read someday” stack, so there’s no point in adding to that.

Of course, there’s always recorded music, but, thanks to iTunes, I’m getting a bit out of hand there, too. Aside from the orchestral stuff I mentioned earlier, my purchases have ranged from Johnny Horton singing “The Battle of New Orleans,” to Billy Joel singing “Uptown Girl,” to Handel’s “Messiah: a Soulful Celebration,” adapting that famous music to various African-American styles. After that, what else is there to buy?

Well, don’t fret. I’ll find something, especially if I keep listening to public radio.

***

When I first moved to Powell, I was officially retired, but learning that, at my age, I wasn’t really cut out to be retired.

I was looking for a job, not so much for money, but for my mental health. I had worked for a couple of years for another journalist, Dave Peck, down in south Big Horn County, and had enjoyed the experience, so I approached Dave Bonner.

Despite my rather thin resume as a journalist, Mr. Bonner was kind enough to employ an old guy, and he paid me more than I expected, maybe more than I was worth. I told him at the time that I wanted to be useful, and if I ever stopped being useful, he should throw me out, and despite my making a few bad mistakes, he never did.

Unfortunately, I can’t work as I once did, except for writing these columns, and the Bonner family has been kind enough to let me keep writing them.

I hope someday I can once again be useful to the Tribune, and I wouldn’t even ask to be paid for it.

I am happy and proud to be part of a very fine newspaper, thanks to Dave Bonner.

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