presents of mind

So, here we are, little more than a week away from Christmas, and in fact only a week away from my heading down to my mom’s for the holiday, and I’ve yet to do a single bit of Christmas shopping. Normally someone who loves shopping, I think of Christmas gift shopping nonetheless as a horribly painful chore, perhaps the worst of the perennial stressors.

And I don’t even have to buy that many gifts, really: Jeff and I have agreed that we’ll buy something nice for the condo, an attractive, well-made piece of furniture–probably a dresser or chest of drawers for the bedroom, or both–rather than worry too much about individual gifts (and we won’t be together at Christmas anyway, it being a holiday of more importance to our families than to us); and my nephews prefer and will get cash, though I’m not so sure about the oldest, who just having sent me an invitation to join Falwell’s Moral Majority (hello, Matt, yes I know you’re reading this) might receive only coal.

That really leaves just three gifts I have to buy:

  1. My sister and brother-in-law, who keep telling me not to get them anything since I buy for their three kids, but since they’ll get me something even though I’ve told them for years not to, I’ll reciprocate. Anyway, they’re not particularly difficult to buy for.
  2. The member of my family whose name I got in the Secret Santa draw. I had suggested for years that my family stop giving gifts all around, and just draw names. They eventually took to the idea, with one twist; they still give to everyone, but the person whose name is drawn gets an extra. Sigh.
  3. My mom, aka the toughest person in the world to buy for. She has a number of rules: no candy, no tchotchkes, no perfume, no clothes (with the occasional exception of permitting me, whose taste she apparently doesn’t mind, to get her a holiday sweater, almost a tradition), etc. She expects something dramatic and unusual, yet practical. At the same time, if she wants something she goes out and buys it, so there’s nothing she really wants or needs come December. She doesn’t need money, and would consider a gift of money an insult anyway. But not giving her a gift at all would be at least as great an insult; she puts a lot of thought into gift-giving, and enjoys it, so she’s never able to accept that other people not only don’t relish it, but find it stressful and unpleasant, and she puts a lot of stock in what one gets her.

Last year, I offered to take her to London. Afraid of flying, however, she declined. This year I’d like to offer to take her to New York for shopping and some shows, something I know she’d like, but I’m concerned that it would be an inadequate gift from her perspective because there’s not really anything to unwrap, nothing physical to hold or show off.

So I’ll continue to stress over it a few more days, probably go find an unusual but attractive sweater again, buy her some roses, calligraph an invitation to New York, and hope it’s enough. And then sit back and wait for next Saturday to come and go so I won’t have to feel this stress again… at least until Mother’s Day.

6 thoughts on “presents of mind

  1. Well, as a joke, to be fair. He considers himself a Republican, the poor deluded 18-year-old, but at the same time is socially pretty liberal. So he likes to rag on me about the fact that Falwell was recruiting him pretty heavily for his college (fortunately, even the rest of the family agreed with me that Liberty Baptist was not the best place for him to go to school).

  2. Wow, Matt… I really thought you were more liberal than that on personal/social issues. According to your score on this quiz, you’re almost as far to the right as it’s possible to be. And with a score of just 20% Personal, you almost had to have said either that you agree that the government should censor speech, or you disagreed that there should be no laws about sex between consenting adults. Either one of those possibilities I find sad.
    How in the world is an 18-year-old so cynical and selfish as that? And how are we so closely related and yet such polar opposites? My scores were 100% Personal and 40% Economic, putting me in the Left/Liberal quadrant.

  3. HAHA I was just trying to stir you up, I’m actually Personal 40% and my economic score is 90%. Put’s me almost as a Libertarian. I wont post anymore on your site, I was just also curious what you were on the quiz. See ya soon.

  4. Whew, you got me on that one. I was really starting to worry about you, but a near-Libertarian is much more in line with where I thought you were. Not that I’m still not worried about what it means about our country that someone so young can be so conservative; I expect it of old rich people, but hope for more idealism from the young, I guess.
    Don’t stop posting here, though. I welcome your opinions.

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