Greatest gift

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 2004

I’ve never been one who enjoyed opening presents in front of others, so Christmas and my birthday are both times when I want to go into another room and come back later to tell everyone what I got.

Now I love watching other people open their gifts, but the thought of me disappointing the gift giver when I open one overcomes me. Perhaps it’s because I do not show much expression when opening gifts and I for some reason find it hard to look, be or act surprised.

Nevertheless, this past Christmas I opened a gift given to me by my mother and father that – at first – didn’t seem to be anything I could use.

I nicely smiled and thanked them, but my mother – who by the way can tell when I don’t feel good prior to me being in her company as easily as haven been around me 15 minutes – caught on really quick that I wasn’t as &uot;pleased&uot; as she had anticipated.

Several minutes went by as I continued to open some other presents, but she finally let it out. &uot;Was that not what you wanted,&uot; she asked.

&uot;Oh, yeah. It’ll work fine on Dad’s computer,&uot; I answered.

Not the best way to put it, though I meant it genuinely that I could use the device they had given me on my father’s computer with no problem.

&uot;Well, it’s exactly what you said you wanted,&uot; she stated.

&uot;I did,&uot; I asked, amazed that she remembered a conversation a month earlier about some computer software I happened to see in a book while visiting her one evening.

What I failed to tell my mother, back when I was viewing the item in the magazine, was that is &uot;exactly what we needed to burn old VHS tapes to DVD on my father’s computer&uot; since he owns a DVD burner and I do not.

However, I did not mention those words and it is so very obvious the confusion.

Struggling to find me a gift – and I admit and I am hard to shop for – she jumped all over the notion of the &uot;perfect&uot; gift because it was something I said I wanted.

Realizing what had happened, I tried so desperately to act as though this was a great gift and that I could make it work… somehow, with my computer.

Two days later, on my birthday, I received a DVD burner from my dad. Bothered terribly that I had driven him into feeling as though he now had to do more to make the first gift work, I decided to actually sit down and read the box from the first present.

Turns out, you don’t have to have a DVD burner to use the device, which turns out the gift may very well be the greatest gift I’ve ever received.

You see, this small device serves as a connection point between a video cassette recorder (VCR) and your computer. At first glance, one might think you’d need a DVD burner to use the thing, but it turns out you can record to regular CDs – which I have capability of doing.

Late Tuesday of this week, I finally decided to open the box and install the software. I later located a VCR and had my mom track down some of the old VHS tapes she and my father had made of the kids over the last 19 years.

Within minutes, I was up and running. The first tape I put in the machine was from 1992 and a combination of my son’s third birthday party and the girls’ kindergarten basketball game at school.

Just sitting there watching the images as they flowed from the old VHS tapes to my computer were worth ever second, but to now know I have a compact disc that will show on most of the newer DVD players, on virtually any computer and can be seen effortlessly anytime or anywhere I want to watch them is worth its weight in gold.

I’ve heard of people having their VHS tapes converted to DVD, but thought it was way too costly and involved having to know a lot about video to make it a reality.

Turns out it’s as easy as hooking up a couple of plugs and punching in a tape.

Naturally, since it’s done in real time, it takes a while to transfer the tape to the CD. Again, since you get to watch the movie as you transfer, it’s worth the time.

However, if you’re just recording some tapes that you don’t feel like sitting and watching at the moment, you can push the button and walk away.

This one simple gift has given me the opportunity to relive some very special moments. Some of which I was not present for the first time anyway since some of the tapes we went through Tuesday night were taken by my parents, of my children, when Teresa and I were not around.

What a wonderful gift to give someone. Now I can own the past, preserve these special moments for a lifetime onto several compact discs and watch them as often as I wish.

I went from thinking I had received a gift that would be on a shelf for years to come to realizing I got the best gift in the world – imagine the possibilities.