Can I tell you how much I hate presents? I like giving them, and I like getting them. It’s just that over the years they have become an Albatross around my neck. The joy associated with them has slipped away.
The first joyless moment came when I was a kid and asked for just one thing for Christmas – a Madam Alexander doll that wore high heels and was anatomically correct. This was many decades ago; long before Barbie became popular.
“It’s all I want,” I pleaded with my mom as I showed her a photo in the catalogue. It was $18. Maybe that was a lot of money back then. It didn’t seem like it, but I was mindful that it could be even at my tender age. That’s why it was the only thing on my list.
On Christmas morning I got several presents, including a creepy clown doll that was about three feet tall and lived in my closet for 40 years. I was afraid to throw him away, lest he haunt my dreams.
No Madam Alexander doll for me. But my “best friend” got one. And lorded it over me.
Disappointment No. 1.
When my kids were little, I overdid the Christmas presents. Still plagued by the lost Madame Alexander doll, I guess. When grandchildren started arriving, I looked forward to another generation of extravagant giving. Disappointment No. 2.
“Three presents,” my daughter told me. “We are not allowing our children to receive more than three presents each from grandparents. Now, if there is a theme to the presents, there can be more than three, but they must be wrapped together to indicate a theme …”
Lord help me. I still have nightmares about those restrictions.
Then there was my youngest son whose reputation involving presents is legendary in our family. He doesn’t give them. He receives them and says thanks very sweetly. In fairness, I can count at least four presents I have received from him over the last 40 years. But that’s it.
There was a period when he was in his early 20s when he would tell us that our presents were on the way. They had been ordered and would be arriving soon, he would say. Weeks would go by with nothing.
“Hey, I haven’t received your present yet, do you suppose they ripped you off, or it got lost?”
No response. Stupid me, I finally caught on.
It became a family joke. “Hey, bro,” my middle son would say. “Is the present in the mail?” We all thought it was funny.
I still send him a present because, well, maybe his engaging personality is enough of a gift. Or maybe I’m a sucker.
The first year I moved to Florida, I was excited to wrap and send gifts up north. I didn’t want to travel to the land of snow and ice, but I also didn’t want to be forgotten. But the grandchildren, who by now were teenagers, couldn’t make up their minds about what they wanted until the last minute. That first year, my late shipping charge was $300. That’s when I instituted my own present policy as I pondered disappointment no. 3.
“You want a gift, you get your list to me by mid-November,” I announced.
“Yeah, well just send us money,” they responded in unison.
And that’s what I did. Until this year when I opted to bring a little more Christmas cheer by sending presents. One box is still missing in action. The other box went to my son, the non-gift-giver. Whether he will ever get them distributed remains a question mark.
I’m sticking this blog in my tickler file so that when present fever strikes me next fall, I can react appropriately. I have the summer to think about it.
In the meantime, if you are a gift giver, I’m recommending my latest book, Deadly Winds, which goes live on January 3. You can read about it, pre-order it now or buy the Kindle version for a mere 99 cents for at least another week. That’s a good deal … almost as good as the doll I wanted. And you won’t be disappointed.
Happy New Year!