Gift Issues Galore
2004-12-25, 5:28 p.m.
What can I say about Christmas Day?
Well, this was the first Christmas ever in which we never did presents. At all. Everyone was so tired they went to bed rather than stay up and do gifts. Then in the morning, Mom dragged herself out of bed by 10:30 looking horrible, saying she was still exhausted, but couldn't possibly let herself sleep any more. Dad didn't wake up until noon. We were supposed to be at Tammy's by 3:30, and Mom had to get Dad into the shower, dressed, herself showered and dressed, AND get food made to bring over by then.
What the hell else could I say to Mom? "We'll just have to do without. We can't do presents like normal people any more." She claimed we could "just have Christmas tomorrow." Yeah, whatever. What can you say.
I ended up telling her (inadvertently) what she was getting. I was getting on her about how she REALLY NEEDS A PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER and she was going on that she would never let some stranger in the house, and it ended up with her saying, "Well, I have a book by Julie Morgenstern..."
We had the requisite "Merry Christmas" family phone calls to get through, each of which sucked an hour of time needed to get ready, it seemed. Grandma was out of it and had no idea if she'd received her gifts or not (she hadn't. Go US Mail), pouted that nobody was up there to see her, said they weren't doing a tree, pouted some more, had no idea Ron was coming to visit her for New Year's, and claimed she'd seen Uncle Tony (who lives in California) from time to time. Sigh. Later we talked to Janelle, which was much more pleasant. I told her what Uncle Bruce said and she was all, "Hey, look at me! I got married at 36 and I'm happy! You can tell him that if he brings it up again."
We didn't get to Tammy's house until 5, when dinner was starting. Naturally we got some crap for that from Auntie Dolores, who had clearly had something crawl up her ass and die sometime between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. She was out for blood all day, I swear, and Tammy said (when I was filling her in on what Uncle Bruce had said the night before) that she was being worse than usual. I mostly tried to avoid her. What the hell can one say when she demands to know why we're late? "Um, it takes 2-4 hours on a good day to get him cleaned up and dressed and in the chair and fed and pilled and out the door, and Christmas isn't a good day?" Honestly, if you haven't done it, you probably aren't going to get it. I was ravenously hungry because we hadn't done lunch and I started raiding the appetizer table, and she was yelling at me that "We're going to have dinner! Didn't you eat lunch?" NO, I did not eat lunch. What time did we have to eat lunch? Takes two damn hours to eat a lunch with Dad anyway when you have to feed him by hand and he laughs and loses the food and takes 15 minutes per bite a good chunk of the time.
Most of the time, it wasn't actually all that bad- when cute kids are running around with pets it tends to distract people. And I am happy to announce that B&D did NOT ask about my love life the entire evening. That's a first. Uncle Bruce also said to Mom that he was amazed that she got as much done as she does. Mom was flabbergasted. "I think they think I just sit around watching TV all the time."
We eventually did gifts, rather late, and I got... more bath stuff! I don't know what's with the bath stuff, but Les couldn't help but ask if I thought everyone thinks I stink. I said, "YES."
By this point of the night, after Dad had finally made it here and I was avoiding Auntie D, I was actually pretty mellowed out and enjoying the holiday season for once. But of course, something had to come up to ruin that.
Most of them were sitting around the table, eating dessert and bitching. I was avoiding them all in the corner and knitting, when their conversation got to the point of, "Hey, let's start doing a gift exchange!" One of those ones where everyone only gets a gift for one person. Only, they wanted to do "nice" gifts on their one person and make there be a mandatory minimum/maximum spent that was high ($75-100), instead of spending $20-30 on each person. Blah blah we spend too much money, blah blah Ron and Laurie only give us all $15-20 gift certificates apiece every year and we're tired of them being cheapasses, blah blah whine whine whine.
I only heard this when Auntie Dolores starts yelling loudly that "Jennifer should be treated as an adult and start sending out cards and giving gifts BY HERSELF." Um, what? Apparently they'd want me to drop $100 on one person as well. (Later Mom was all, "She's just jealous because you were the only person who actually GOT a non-gift certificate from Ron and Laurie.")
I um...well, in Mom parlance, I Got Snippy. I didn't want to do it. I said that I don't want to get gifts by myself because I have present anxiety, and I don't want to say, draw Ron and have no clue what to get him, plus it has to be a "nice" gift, and that being the ONLY damn gift he gets, and have everyone thinking, "God, she sucked" when I bugger it up. And Auntie D started yelling at me- she evidently thought I didn't get the concept of Gift Exchange and wanted me to say I'd do it immediately right that second- what it meant. I snapped back, "Yes, I get what a gift exchange is. I get that it means I'd get ONE GIFT, OR NO GIFT. YES, I GET IT." Uncle Bruce tried to rein it in and said we didn't have to decide until Labor Day or something (hah, like you think I'm going to spend Labor Day with y'all if I can at all help it?), but I was just pissed off, and it ruined the rest of the night.
I'm saying right now that I'm not going to do it. I'd rather go presentless and get ragged on for not being in the gift exchange than get ragged on for the gift I screwed up. I don't think thinking about it until Labor Day's going to change my mind on this.
I was the only one who wasn't all "Yay gift exchange so I can be cheap!" Frankly, I'm against it, and I'm the only one who isn't wholeheartedly for it, I will lose. Not because I'm necessarily against being cheap, not because I like getting gifts (as Auntie D bitched at me), but because of the following points:
Of course, nobody's going to listen to me on this, but here's how I'd reformat this stupid idea:
At this point, it was 1 a.m. and I was in a bad mood, so I went to bed so we wouldn't argue about it any more.
Merry fucking Christmas.