My 9-year-old Sam wants only ties and stacking cups for Christmas, bless his heart. Does anyone know what the deal is with these speed stack cups? I mean, is it a big mistake for me to get him some because it’s actually the lamest thing ever?

I’ve sort of fallen into a scouting theme. Is my son particularly into cub scouts? Not really. But when a theme takes hold of me I run with it. His big present is a tent. It only cost 19$ but you have to take into account the visual impact of the thing on Christmas morning. His stocking will be hung up outside of it and around it will be placed a hybrid flashlight, a huge bunch of Barebooks, and a Boy Scout version of Monopoly.

Inside the tent will be . . . a glorious pyramid of stacking cups celebrated with streamers of TIES!

To read, I got him James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small. This might be a little advanced for him, but I read and loved it at his age. Of course, I was dealing with abandonment issues from my veterinarian father so that might have been the draw for me. At any rate, I hope he likes it.

To listen to, I got him The Johnny Cash Children’s Album. I think he will love it. Sam fancies himself a Johnny Cash fan, you know.

Last but not least, Sam will be getting a Far Side desk calendar. I’m so excited that he’s finally ready for the Far Side. Didn’t you always get a Far Side calendar for Christmas? I did. And now Sam will. And it will always be funny.