I'm bad at gifts, really bad. I'm terrible at buying gifts. I daresay I am pretty decent at getting inside people's heads to try to understand them like I would understand characters: what motivates them, what traumas shaped them, what are their ambitions and fears; I have no idea if they would prefer to unwrap a pine scented candle or a fruitcake (okay, not a fruitcake) or a scarf or maybe a nice screwdriver set.

I'm not at all good at receiving gifts either, mind you. There's not much worth wanting that can be wrapped, at least in my opinion. My wife can give me a tasty dinner or a batch of scones . . . or something else saucy . . . but everyone else is best advised to just give me something that can be eaten, if they truly feel they must give me anything at all.

I was thinking about the trials and tribulations of the gift-challenged today, the Eve of the biggest orgy of gifting in the Western World, and I realized that the greatest gift I have received--at least in terms of writing--has been the friendships, fun, and advice I have received since embarking on this whole writing-on-the-internet thing. Almost exactly a year ago I started lurking around a forum for writers, and a month or two after that I signed up for an account, and I have been learning and writing and basically enjoying myself ever since. Engaging with others of my peculiar ilk has improved my writing immeasurably and filled my life more than I ever could have imagined, even if it's all "just" words on a screen. I suppose that I gave myself that gift initially, by bothering to show up at all, but from there so many others have given me gifts of laughter and guidance and confidence.

I hope that I have reciprocated fully to my friends who have given me so much, but I worry that I never could repay what my friends have given me. I suppose that is the nature of gifts, especially the best gifts.

Thank you, all. Enjoy your Holidays, however you celebrate them.