Tycho did not seem to get the point of presents. Why spend effort and money on something that the person you were getting it for didn’t even want and had to pretend they liked, when instead you could just give them the money and have them pick out something they actually wanted? (The Phippen system actually meant that the kids never had to spend allowance on presents for grownups, so that worked out really well.)
“The surprise is that she surprises us with what we got her,” Elliot insisted. For example, it was a big surprise when thirteen-year-old Elliot got Mama fancy liquor even though he wasn’t legal. Or when Ari gifted her concert tickets. Elliot figured that eventually he would be in charge of getting things for his mom on his own, but until then he was happy to follow the time-honored tradition of avoiding work for maximum benefit. “And, uh, I dunno. Does your family do Santa? It’s like, the same principle. Everyone is supposed to get something from everyone else.”
But whatever, if the Leppits didn’t care about getting people things they wanted then Elliot would help Tycho get something for his weird mom. The Aquila scanned the nearest knickknack display and picked up the weirdest-looking item he could find: an obviously handmade ceramic frog. The artist had, for unknown reasons (Elliot suspected artistic incompetence and/or demonic possession) chosen for the frog to have eyes that pointed in different directions and a mouth full of teeth. “You should definitely get her this. It’s…” Elliot squinted at the little tag on the bottom of the deeply upsetting frog. “‘Made in Boulder.’ And it’s totally not cursed.”
It totally looked cursed.