Recently-ish, in the habit I’ve grown accustomed to now, I had a birthday.  This temporal landmark doesn’t always seem to inspire a massive shower of gifts in the way that one quietly hopes it will, however I do from time to time receive a happy smattering of such tokens from my nearest & dearest.

It’s possible to read all sorts of interpretations into the gifts that people give you, and I suspect the phrase “it’s the thought that counts” was coined directly to stop any further interpreting going on – it’s always possible to over-analyse, and come to the wrong conclusion.  For instance, were someone to post me an Amazon.co.uk voucher I’d probably wonder whether it meant that they didn’t care enough to spend time picking out something I liked, or maybe my personality is so bland to the outward observer that they couldn’t find any single facet of it to attach a gift to and settled on a “one-size-fits-all” solution?  Maybe the person was ludicrously busy and wanted to make a gesture but didn’t have time to do more?  Maybe they’d heard me talking about something expensive I’d seen on Amazon and wanted to contribute?  Or maybe they just didn’t want to spend loads on posting something large or awkward.  (Nobody *did* post me an Amazon voucher, by the way – it was purely a fictional example…  but you’re most welcome to do so.  It encourages brain activity.)

This year though, one of the arrivals was nothing so open-ended in its purposes and it philosophical implications.  No, this was quite specific.  The new addition to my wordly goods & chattels was a Darth Vader Mr Potato Head.

The questions it raises I think are more to do with the recipient than the sender – I absolutely love it, and so you’d have to wonder “What in the hell does a 32 year old want with a nerded up version of a 1950s facsimile tuber based toy?”.

The question you’re probably thinking of right now, however, is probably very very different to the one that came to my mind as I unwrapped the box because you see – I’ve already got a Darth Tater.

There was no way the generous sender of this gift (who had cunningly ordered from Australia using a UK firm) could have known that my housemate & sometime kickboxing sparring partner Emma had already presented me with one of these potato gems 3 years hence.  So the question playing through my mind was more like “How in the world did I become the sort of person who has 2 Darth Taters?”.  The world is literally awash with warehouses full of gift options, and there are websites and businesses whose entire purpose is to purvey such things: Firebox, IWOOT, BoysStuff.co.uk, Think Geek… the list goes on.  I have had a gift doubling-up since I was about 9, and I was able to put that down to the likelihood that my Mum and the other kid’s Mum probably shopped at the same Big W.  To get 2 of these, 3 years apart is quite a different thing.  I think.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s an excellent present, and I was totally stoked to receive it!

However I’ve checked, and I can exchange it for one of these.