Chaos Attraction

What Do You Want?

2006-12-08, 4:22 p.m.

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I'm used to having to Manage Mother at the holidays. I don't do the cooking or the cleaning, but I pretty much do everything else. It annoys me that I'm given (or forced to take, ahem) all this time off AFTER Christmas, when really I need a week off BEFORE Christmas so I can go home and mommy-wrangle. She can't get a tree up, god only knows with decorations, and sometime around 4 p.m. on December 24 she dumps ALL of the family gifts upon me to wrap.

I don't mind being the holiday wrangler person- even when I lived at home still I was the one in charge of the tree and wrapping- but I do mind the total last-minute scramble.

I went to a "how to deal with the holidays" seminar at work yesterday, where I ran into my old shrink Beth and chatted with her for awhile. That was fun. As usual, I was the youngest one around and the only one who has a mom who's acting like her child :P I did get one good idea while I was there though- Mom has to come up next weekend for Alicia's graduation fooferall, so why not have her drag any gifts she HAS bought (if any, because she hasn't wanted to buy anyone anything this season so far) up with her so I can wrap them ahead of time for once? We'll see if she does it, of course.

What do you want?

Harder question to answer than you'd figure.

With my relatives, shopping is a bitch. Nobody wants anything, they buy it for themselves if they do, and yet they expect gifts. This drives me nuts every year.

Then there's the alternate problem: being asked what I want.

I have a freaking Amazon list for this. Okay, so really it's more of a "Jen Keeps Track Of What She'll Buy For Herself" list than a "this is what other people can get me" list. I actually started a "other people" list after Amazon started having multiple-list capability, so I could send that off to whoever wanted it. This has not gone well either. Somehow Mom just REALLY doesn't want to look at a freaking Amazon list...or at least, not a long one. "I feel guilty I can't get that all," she said.

At this point I'm thinking, "I'm spoiled, but I'm not THAT spoiled. Jaysus."

"Mom," I replied at the time, "you don't have to get EVERYTHING on the list. That's just stuff I figure you can find in a store, and the more I put on the list, the better your odds are of finding SOMETHING on said list. But really, you should just order stuff on Amazon and it'll be easier for everybody."

She said she understood that, but deep down I know that'll get nowhere. The odds of her ordering something online are slim to none because I think she'd just rather go into a store, and she hates giving out gift cards so you can pick out stuff yourself.

Once upon a time, she used to make the effort of tracking down stuff people wanted, but after Dad got sick that went out the window. "What do you want?" boiled down to her dragging me off to shop any time I was visiting in November or December, having me pick out clothes then and there, and buying them because trying to surprise was too hard for her to do. (Unless she bought random crap at Costco or through Avon- those were the "surprises.") In short, she was just going to hand me random stuff she bought because that was easier than finding something I said I'd like while juggling Dad. Okay, not something I'm thrilled about, but it's understandable.

So I've learned over the years not to actually answer that question. "Oh, you know, books and DVD's, the usual," is about as specific as I get, especially when I know I'm unlikely to get much of either. Whatever makes it easier on her to just buy me stuff at random.

Last night I called her after getting out of volunteering, and she was in Mervyn's wanting to buy me a pair of Crocs. I am unimpressed with Crocs, but especially wouldn't think of Crocs as good winter slippers, so it took some effort to convince her not to buy them for me. See, that's how she shops: she sees it, she wants it, she gets it. And I suspect I'll end up with a pair of Crocs within a year anyway. And then she was all, "What do you want?"

I gave her the usual books/CD's answer, and she was all, "That's it? You always say that. But what do you REALLY want?"

And... I was dumbfoundedly silent for like a good five minutes.

I mean, yeah, I knew what I wanted, but...could I actually ask for it? Would it do any good to ask for it? Especially when said stuff requires ordering online because you can't just find it in Mervyn's? Would I just get in trouble for not being "easy?" It's kind of ironic that every year I bitch that nobody wants anything, and when I (for once) get asked for real, I don't know if I should even GIVE an answer.

I finally said, stumbling, that I'd like a KnitDenise needle set, and some yarn. She was surprisingly amenable to this, and I made her a list of non-book/DVD items that I want today.

Realistically, I know she won't actually get them, or at least the odds aren't good. She's a scatty person and the holidays make it worse, and me not whipping her into shape in person makes that even worse. But... I dunno, it just startled me to be confronted with that. I gave up asking for "what I really want" so many years ago that I wasn't even sure if I could/should go there again.

In other news, my Internet at home is busted. GAH. Great to have happen for a weekend coming up and Holidailies. I hope to god I can manage to fix it tonight.

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