Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Holiday Guilt Derailed

I have a (nasty?) habit of rolling my eyes. I do it alot. I've been called out by just about everyone. Apparently my poker face does not include my eyes, which give me away every time. So if my eyes roll at any slight annoyance, they must have been avalanching while opening the gifts my parents mailed to me.

I waited until Christmas night to open my gifts, as is tradition in my family. Even though the box arrived on the 19th, I waited a week to open it. But I am good like that. A wrapped present could sit within sight for a year and not bother me. I don't shake, weigh, or sniff wrapped packages trying to guess contents. I am a curious person by nature, but getting gifts has never been my strong suit. By and large, I hate getting gifts. I am awkward and completely out of my element when receiving or opening a present from . . . well, anyone.

For this, I totally blame my parents. Over the last 20 years of my adult life, they have proceeded to buy me the most ridiculous presents given to a person. To their defense, I am a difficult person to buy for - every boyfriend has told me this. One Christmas, Ex#4 handed me his credit card and said, "Here, I give up." But I kinda like being hard to buy for. I like that it actually takes some thought in order to pick out a present or gift for me. I'd rather not be the recipient of a present someone bought at the last minute. But in a perfect world, I would rather not receive a present at all. Any gift that I have to unwrap, I probably won't enjoy (98% of the time).

Gifts that people give you will reflect the giver's image of you. And as much as I love my parents, I sometimes wonder if they have any idea who I am, merely based on the presents they have given me:

Three years ago was my "Sam's Christmas". In a last ditch effort, my parents gave me the gift of bulk: a 36-box count of small cereal boxes, a 50-pack assortment of Frito-Lay snacks, and a super-sonic rug scrubber (which was perfect for my all-hardwood floor apartment).

Two years ago, I got a cassette tape of Barry Manilow's greatest hits. 1) I don't like Barry Manilow, 2) I haven't owned a cassette player since 1992, and 3) Barry Manilow?? I also received a sweatshirt with the name of my hometown embroidered on the front.

Eyes rolling.

Last year I got a duffle bag, the size of which is perfect for those random six month ski trips or smuggling five small Asian children into slavery. Otherwise, it's too big for a weekend trip and just a tad too small for, say, covering the backhoe for winter.

This year has been no exception. Among the gifts was a Teddy Bear, to which Mom attached a note that read, "Hi, I am your new friend. I will be here for you to talk to when you are sad or feel lonely." (Apparently she equates Chicago with Siberia and thinks I am 6 years old and living in an igloo.) Mom, if I start talking to this bear, I have bigger problems than just being lonely.


Another gem in the gift box was a small wooden replica of my parents' church. She said I could just put it in a drawer and pull it out when I want to look at it (sweetie, that's called porno, not church). I guess one day I will be laying in bed and think to myself, "You know, I would really like to look at the ole' neighborhood church right now, thank God Mom gave me that plaque. Why, I happen to have it right here in this drawer. Let me sit it on this shelf and just look at it for a few minutes."

Eyes rolling.


I have begged repeatedly for them to stop. I suggested spending the money on their grandchildren or each other. I already own everything I want or need. I don't like clutter and I seldom save anything that doesn't fit in my scrapbooks. I have very few posessions and I like it that way. I have offered the option of just giving me the cash instead, but my mother insists that I open a present on Christmas night. I have argued that I can open an envelope as easily as opening a wrapped box, but to no avail. And I don't really suffer in silence as this has become somewhat of a running joke in my family. So I grin and bear it. And bitch about it to anyone who will listen.