Last night was the Twentieth Annual Get Together at Dr. No's And Exchange Gifts Extravaganza, an event that began with a much smaller group back in 1987 and has grown ever since (one might argue that it began even earlier than that, since Charles and Ward and I swapped gifts for a year or two before that, but it wasn't as semi-organized as it has been since '87, when we began doing the gift thing on the Wednesday before Christmas, followed by our big weekly dinner event, which is almost always at El Rodeo). I think this was our biggest year ever; in attendance were Charles, Chris, Brett, Allyson, Ralph, Buck, Chrissy, Jared, Jenny, Whitney, Bobby, and me. (Trish and Amy didn't make it to the store, but they joined us at the restaurant afterwards.)
Got lots of great gifts, including Beatles and Philosophy (don't know how I missed this one, but Jared's unerring gift sense led him to secure a copy for me), Everyday Life in Mesopotamia (thanks, Charles!), another exceptional cheesecake and an exceptionally bizarre Nativity-scene-reenacted-by-cats figurine display (it must be seen to be believed!) from Brett and Allyson, dark chocolate and a hot chocolate kit from Whitney, delicious homemade cookies from Chris, a wonderfully weird original Psycho Bunny ornament from Ralph (he debuted his latest creation at DragonCon--picture Berke Breathed's Bill the Cat transformed into a bunny by Ralph Steadman), a subscription to a "how-it's-done" magazine called Makers from Buck and Chrissy... all sorts of goodies!
I always wish I could find the perfect gift for everyone, but it doesn't always work out that way. This year, though, I did hit a couple that were right on target. For Charles, an avid fan of Lin Carter, I managed to track down the cover painting to Mind Wizards of Callisto, a Lin Carter book that's part of a series of which Charles is quite fond. Serendipity was with me; I managed to luck into the original, only modestly scuffed, back in September and kept it hidden away until then. I had owned one of the Callisto cover painting originals and had given it to Charles a few years ago, knowing he would appreciate it more than me. I thought I had tracked down another cover back in July, but it turned out that the owner had cut it in half because he didn't like the solid color area at the top where the logo would be overlaid. Then, by methods so esoteric that I can't even begin to explain them without rambling on for far too long, I ran across this one and knew I had found the gift for Charles. He seemed to be really pleased with it, which was great--that's what we always hope for every gift!
The other was my gift for Bobby, a Jane Monheit Christmas Dual-Disc. Bobby's a big Jane Monheit fan, and I had remembered that this disc came out and then went out of print very quickly; I ran across a second copy (already had one for myself) and gambled that Bobby didn't have it. The gamble paid off; not only did he not have it, but he didn't even know it existed until he opened the gift!
Alas, other gifts were less perfect; I hope that they were appreciated as a sign of friendship and affection, though!
(Incidentally, this was the first year that Bobby and Jenny joined us for the event; hope it's not their last!)