Friday, November 14, 2008

Strange Gifts

I've never understood why my parents bought me a gorgeous leather baseball glove for my tenth birthday and never signed me up to play Little League. I still have that glove and use it to play catch with my sons, but I cannot fathom giving them a present like that without the follow through of an opportunity to use it. The following Christmas I knew for certain a package held a soccer ball for me. I opened up a strawberry-shaped carrying case for Strawberry Shortcake dolls. My disappointment must have been obvious, but neither parent thought to ask what I'd hoped to open that morning. To this day I cannot understand my grandmother's train of thought when gave me an electric razor and a giant plastic dolly for Christmas the year I was twelve. (My cousin, a year younger, got accessories for downhill skiing.) For that matter, the hot pink velor lounge suit with a cowl neck given to me by my other grandmother for my thirteenth birthday still seems like a gift more appropriate for a senior citizen playing shuffle board on the Love Boat.

Mr. D presented me with a terra cotta flower press on my birthday a few years ago. He seemed to believe that as a gardener, I'd have a sudden urge to kill my blooming flowers and what? Decoupage' a table top with them? Out of an entire catalog of garden supplies, that was the best he could come up with? In 1996, my mother-in-law gave each of her children and their spouses $100 gift cards for Christmas. My sisters-in-law opened gift cards to Barnes & Noble, Younkers and Dillard's. She gave me an amaryllis bulb. No gift card. Not an oversight either, upon investigation. I'd somehow given her the impression that I hated gift cards so she didn't get me one.

It's possible that I'm very hard to read, difficult to buy things for. What stings is how I've never overlooked these slights--and I don't bear grudges by nature. But these memories of strange gifts, inappropriate gifts, gifts so far off the mark of what I'd have loved to receive--I carry them with me. They are markers of how people who should love me the most, know me the best, are unable to see me clearly. And I wonder, how can that be?



11 comments:

  1. A couple of years ago my husband's older brother (a religious man in his 50's) gave him a money-clip with the Playboy bunny logo on it for Xmas. Hubby kept scratching his head and wondering---"does he think I'm 15?"

    People are weird. Really. I know it's hard not to take it personally, but that's what garage sales are for. LOL

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  2. Unless someone asks me what I would like to have it's almost certain I will get a gift for the person they "Think" I am.


    Me...I'm doing it wrong. ;p

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  3. one year my grandma gave me scotch tape -- so i wouldn't use up my mother's. i will never get over that.

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  4. While I was in college, my mom got pissed off at me and my brother for something and said that my dad would be in charge of buying Christmas that year. It was the best Christmas ever. I got tools, artwork, and stuff for my mountain bike instead of a whole lot of other junk, while nice, was not what I needed.

    Some people get stuck on the "gotta give something" rather than putting thought and love into a gift.

    Hey, you could be Ralphie in "A Christmas Story" and get a big pink bunny suit.

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  5. How strange...

    Luckily, Pete usually gets it right with my gifts. As for everyone else, my family knows to run their ideas by Pete before shopping for me. My in-laws, however, don't bother, which is a shame, as their money is so often wasted.

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  6. The older my MIL gets, the odder the gift-giving gets. She has taken to just sending checks--which is great with teenagers, but the amounts vary from person to person and year to year. Since they live on a decent fixed-income I can't figure out why the variation. Luckily, it all seems to come out in the wash so if you get the $30 check this birthday you might get the $100 next birthday.

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  7. I have a cupboard with gifts that I never understood. Pretty but useless things. And my mother returns every single gift I have ever bought for her over the past 6 years or so... even when it was SPECIFICALLY what she wanted. sigh.

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  8. Hinting is a difficult technique. The in-laws keep getting gifts that connect better with the people we were in college -- 20-some years ago. Are they really that uncreative?

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  9. My MIL gave me a wolf blanket. A knit thing with a couple of wolves howling at the moon. I use it nearly every night.

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  10. My in-laws began supporting charities in our names - which I applaud - but charities of THEIR choice.

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  11. I've never gotten over some slights like this too. :( My poor sister got them the worst.

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Spill it, reader.