Friday, November 7, 2014

The next time nothing comes your way

So there's a chance I possess one or two irrational phobias.

My children leaping off anything over a meter high (I find this completely rational, but Joel definitely does not).

Bugs in my bed sheets (Long story, but I blame this one on my mom.  Also explains my fear of hanging laundry outside).

Frying food (I mean, really, why would anyone hover over a pan of spitting, hot oil?).

And last, but not least... gift giving.

Gift giving? you say.

Yes.  Gift giving, I say back.

Now that Christmas is barreling towards us once again, the throat-closing, finger-numbing anxiety is setting in.

I struggle enough with individual birthdays and special occasions, but Christmas is just too much.  Because all the people need all the presents all at once.

You see, gift giving usually goes something like this for me...

I remember it's someone's birthday.  Or someone's child's birthday.  Or various other special occasions that call for the giving of presents.

Okay, to be honest, I'm actually lucky if I remember this.  I have a thing with writing important dates on calendars.  It's that I don't do it.  I'm always promising myself that I will.  But I definitely don't.

But let's say I remember.  I don't actually remember until the day of or the day before because I can't think more than a day in advance.  So, seeing that I live across the ocean from most of my friends and family, I'm already late with the gift.

But a little late is okay.  Only now it has to be good.  Now it has to be thoughtful and sweet and really, really good.

So I think for a long time.  What would be thoughtful and sweet and really, really good for this person?

But the thing is, I'm not very creative.  So I almost always come up blank.

I do have the internet, however.  And the internet is willing to help people like me, who know they love people, but have no idea how in the world to show that in the form of a present.

So I click on the occasion and the recipient's gender and age and interests and I get pages and pages of ideas.

But the problem is, they're just not thoughtful enough.  They're the same ideas for all of the people of that age and gender and interests, but they're not special enough for my person.  They don't capture my person.

So I put away the computer and I think again in my own brain about what could be really thoughtful. By now it's been a few days, so you can see that I need to think of something super, extra thoughtful.

I think about making something.  But then I remember I don't know how to make things.  I think about buying them an experience, but when I search gift cards and season passes, I get all panicky and think, maybe they already have one, or maybe they've been there and they hate it, or maybe they'll get it and think, she doesn't know me at all.

This is the point when I get overwhelmed and I close all the open tabs on my computer and I shut down my brain and I'll start from scratch tomorrow.

So then tomorrow comes, but usually in a few days when I have the time.  And when it does come I think, why the heck didn't I get the kid a darn truck two weeks ago?  Why didn't I get her a gift card to any stinking restaurant?  Why do I have to make this so complicated?

But now it's been two weeks and it would be silly to send any of those thing.  Like, Hi, I couldn't remember your birthday, and all I could come up with two weeks later is a stupid truck.  I didn't think about you at all, just clicked on the first present I saw and sent it your way... when really at this point I've been thinking about nothing else but this present for weeks and nothing I could buy could possibly reflect that and so what's the point?!

I'm so envious of people who buy gifts and send them on time.  I think for a second, Oh my gosh, that is so sweet.  And immediately after I think, Oh my gosh, I suck so bad.  And I promise to do better next time.  But I never do.

When I do succeed in buying what I think is a thoughtful present, I look back in horror a few weeks, months, or years later and realize just how very bad it was.

Like one time I bought Joel tickets to see my favorite singer.  There were two, so he had to take me.

Another time I'm pretty sure I bought him pencils.  You know, because he's a teacher.  I've tried to block that one out.

I'm also relatively certain that I bought my bridesmaids classic literary novels, and wrote messages to each of them explaining why that particular book reminded me of them.  I think I was supposed to get necklaces.

So friends, family, loved ones... next time a special occasion comes and goes, and nothing ever shows from me and mine, could you please take some time to jot off a quick thank you note.

Because that nothing could very well be the most thoughtful nothing you'll ever receive.

1 comment:

  1. I love this, because I soooo know what you are talking about! Yes! I get it! See, it's not that we are unthoughtful, it's the pressure and indecision about not having a fabulous idea that fills us with angst and paralysis. :)