Every year I have this inner battle with myself and moi. We go ’round and ’round about the same damned thing: to give or not to give. The politics of presents has really gotten out of hand. Several years ago, six to be exact, the in-laws decided they were done with gift giving. Christmas is for kids, they announced emphatically. Grandkids, specifically. Okay. Let’s be really specific here – one grandkid. singular. The Kisa and I rejoiced with skepticism. It didn’t seem possible to buy for just one niece (although that would make shopping a breeze, at least that’s what we thought). But, what were we planning to do, all sit around and watch one kid open a crapload of gifts? Yup. That’s exactly what happens. Our new dilemma became What Do You Get the Kid Who Has Everything? Until this year. My sister-in-law plops a gift in my lap and laments, “I know. I know. We said no gifts.” “But!” she adds brightly, “I saw this and just had to get it for you!” I could only stare at her in dismay. Kisa shrugs. Hello awkward moment.
Then there’s my side of the family that never sticks to anything serious. We say we won’t buy for the adults but inevitably there will be presents and stocking-stuffers both. Oodles of cash spent on chintzy things, tacky things, totally unnecessary things. World class lying on all our parts. So, it’s not about not buying gifts, because we know we just will. It’s about the dollar amount. Two years ago the Kisa and I were given life preserver looks because we went way overboard in the spending department. It was embarrassing. For every gift we received we had given three at least in return. What was I thinking? I’m not sure but myself was pissed at me. We created an uncomfortable situation without even trying.
Here we are again. Kisa and I bought one gift for my mother. One gift. It’s practical. It’s something she needs. She’ll appreciate it. And yet. Yet, I find myself worrying it’s not enough. She could always use another fill-in-the-blank. There’s room for one more insert-present-here.
I don’t know when I’ll figure this out, but guess what? I have always, always been like this. I say I won’t send holiday cards to those humbugs who haven’t sent me one in the last five years. I say I won’t bother with writing a real greeting to those who simply stuff a silly photo-card in a printer-labeled envelope. Why bother with the ones that can’t be bothered with me? Why put pen to paper when there are some who can’t even sign their names? I don’t have the answer. I haven’t figured out the politics of presents.