Playing on the TV was A Christmas Story, deep in part of that 24-hour marathon which has made sure I still feel worn out of actually watching the movie. But since I left it as background noise the movie seemed to run faster than I remembered. My father mentioned how much he liked it because of how it evoked his childhood; I pointed out that it is set in 1947. My father pointed out so was his childhood.
The most prominent toys my niece had received were a plush giraffe over four feet tall at the ears and which reportedly came in a box even taller still, which would make an awesome fort or the popular Halloween costume, kid in an overly large box; and a little tent maze that sprawled in several directions. According to her parents, she didn't even notice them right after getting up, and focused on smaller toys for a while. It's possible she was overwhelmed by the experience. She did fairly well in unwrapping things, although she got to be a lot better at it when my mother showed her how to stab things, by using the plastic spatula from the toy kitchen to break open a plastic seal. My sister-in-law grumbled the rest of the day about her daughter being taught how to stab things, and my mother kept pointing out she was not stabbing, at most she was slicing, and in an appropriate way. It did get her pretty good on opening packages once she got help in where to start the spatula.
I'd given her a couple of toys --- a WonderPets Linny stuffed doll (she's the guinea pig), and a little ball pit that just screamed 'xkcd' to me; the prospect of fifty balls, even if nominally contained in a little tent, got me such a glare from my sister-in-law --- and a Barnes and Noble Discount Edition printing of The Complete Works Of Lewis Carroll. My sister-in-law mentioned she was too young to handle a book that heavy with pages like that, but I said, she'll grow into it. It feels important to me that children have early exposure to nonsense.
I'm happy to say I didn't disappoint anyone severely with my gifts to them, although one, to my brother-in-law, I felt needed footnotes. In particular I gave my brother-in-law an artistic collectible set of playing cards, the backs of which were stylized paintings of Philadelphia. See, the first time he and I spent any substantial time together was when we visited Philadelphia, taking in the Liberty Bell, and other surrounding sights. And also (I learned later) the time that he asked my father for his approval to marry my sister. While I'm still not sure the gift was as on-point as could be, he understood, at least, and I think it worked all right as a reasonably personal gift.
The most curious gift exchange: the brother who'd moved to Massachusetts gave me The Complete Bloom County, 1980-1982, because he so enjoyed the housewarming present I gave him, besides furniture from my storage locker: The Complete Bloom County, 1980-1982. I'm going to have to think about that one a while.
Trivia: The Montgomery Ward catalogues of around 1900 provided instructions for ordering products in ten languages. Source: Victorian America: Transformations In Everyday life, 1876 - 1915, Thomas J Schlereth.
Currently Reading: Copies in Seconds: How A Lone Inventor And An Unknown Company Created The Biggest Communication Breakthrough Since Gutenberg --- Chester Carlson And The Birth of Xerox, David Owen. Which I admit I primarily picked up because of recently reading The Last Lone Inventor and a lone inventor postdating Philo T Farnsworth is therefore fundamentally entertaining.