Friday, December 4, 2015

Geeky Gifts for Nieces and Nephews from a Weird Uncle

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog that I take pride in being a geek. While when I was younger, there were aspects of my geekiness that I kept hidden to avoid appearing weird to others, I am no longer ashamed of my interests.

In fact, recently I was a volunteer staff member for a training experience for young men, in which older men that mentored these younger men were affectionately referred to as “weird uncles.” Although I am not old enough to be an uncle to most of these young men (as most of them were in the age range of my younger brothers), after a bit of thought, I realized that I am a weird uncle to my own nieces and nephews, and it is a title I claim with joy.

My niece, Aili, receiving a more traditional gift for Christmas
When my first nephew was born, I tended to give him gifts that were more mainstream. I didn’t want to give him something I would have liked if he wasn’t likely to enjoy it. Though over time, and as more of my nieces and nephews joined the family, I found that I could find a balance between the two. I could still be the weird uncle that gave geeky gifts, though I could also do my best to make sure they were gifts that my nieces and nephews would also enjoy.

And I’m definitely starting to see that my nieces and nephews have their own geek interests. My oldest nephew is really into Minecraft and likes Avatar: the Last Airbender (even dressing as Avatar Aang for Halloween once).

I gave my nephew, Robby, the XBox 360 edition of Minecraft for Christmas
The oldest of my nieces has developed an interest in superheroes (due in no small part to the influence of her dad), and whose favorite superhero is the Flash. When she was only four years old, I can recall her correctly naming all the characters on a Justice League t-shirt I was wearing.

I gave my niece, Evie, a Lego
Justice League t-shirt for her birthday
Another of my nieces is a big fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I have often found her watching the latest TMNT cartoon series, and take an immediate interest to anything turtle related.

I gave my niece, Kylie, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt for her birthday
While some of my nieces and nephews are still too young for me to have noticed any particular interests yet, I no longer shy away from giving them geeky gifts. I will still get gifts that I believe fit their personalities and see if doing so might pique their interest in something new. If they don’t take a particular interest in that, I always have the opportunity to try something different the next time.

I gave my nephew, Kelly, a Superman t-shirt for his birthday
I have found that my gifts to my nieces and nephews (and to others as well) not only gives me the opportunity to express my geeky nature and be a weird uncle to them, but also gives me a chance to relate to them around common interests. I have had many a discussion around Minecraft, the Justice League and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with them.

My niece, Jolene, being taught superhero
poses by her dad, while wearing the
Supergirl shirt I gave her for her birthday
Although they are still young, it’s fun to see them begin to get into some of the fandoms that I have loved for years, and find their own interests that they may come to enjoy and love for years to come.

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