Wednesday, December 07, 2005

How Cupcake Stole Christmas

This post concerns some strife that has been going on in my family for a few weeks now, but I am going to try to abbreviate it here. Now, in the beginning, I sound kind of sanctimonious and cheesey, so feel free to skip over that part.

Before Thanksgiving, my brother called me to ask what I wanted for Christmas and I put him off, telling him we could talk about it at Thanksgiving. That is because I thought this was a discussion to best have face to face. However, over Thanksgiving, I didn't get to wait until the time was perfect, instead, while LittleBrother and I lazily watched as Pop and Sweetie cleared the dishes, he asked me again. So I kinda took center stage in the kitchen and made the announcement that for Christmas this year, I didn't think we should exchange presents, we should all just enjoy each other's company and that would be gift enough. Sweetie, God Bless her, somehow managed to keep clearing the dishes, my Father raised an eyebrow and my brother punched me in the arm. So I quickly started explaining how I had come to this conclusion saying something like, "I have everything I need. And now that I have to delay purchase of items I thought I wanted, I find that in the long run, I don't really need them and besides so many others have so much less than us, nothing, they have nothing and it has been such a difficult year, why don't we just make a donation to a worthy charity, blah blah blah..."

My Father said, "Are you broke? You're broke, that's what this is about. Do you need money? Just tell me."

My brother of course could not speak, because he was having an aneurysm. Remember that post I wrote about how much my brother likes free crap? Well, the only thing my brother likes more than free crap is when you buy him nice stuff and wrap it up. When I returned from my first ever business trip last year, three days including travel time in a small city outside Frankfurt, LittleBrother actually called to ask, "What did you get me?".

So LittleBrother said, "If you don't show up with presents, you are not going to have a merry Christmas, because I am not going to pick you up from the train station."

"How about if I make a donation in your name to a charity instead?"

"No! Who do you want to donate money to?"

"Well, I've been really interested in the homeless ever since I read..."

"No! Homeless people did not live with you. Homeless people did not share a bathroom with you for 16 years! I deserve presents! They have done nothing to deserve your presents!"

Really, it's amazing that Hallmark hasn't contacted my family to do a reality special yet. So, although later on in the day when calmer heads prevailed I tried to restate my cases, I was strong-armed into the annual Christmas Gift Exchange.

LittleBrother immediately went to work on his Christmas List which he emailed to us as an attachment the next day back at work. His list is prioritized by how badly he wants each gift and includes photos and links for ease of Internet Shopping. I am not kidding. The guys asked me for my list, but again, I put them off. Really, it seems that there are many things I wanted, but nothing I needed and I still felt guilty about the blatant consumerism of the holiday. The things I did want, like a gym membership or high speed Internet at home for a year, seemed very expenseive and did not lend themselves to gift giving.

Finally, this weekend, I was browsing in Target after KateBklyn and JustJohnny worked their magic on my apartment (future post) and saw some things I really needed. So I send the guys my Christmas List yesterday and it included, in total:

Coat Tree (a nice sturdy one)
Cake Transporter
Popcorn Air Popper

Today, while I was at lunch, my phone rang. It was my Dad.

"I just have a quick question for you. What's your shoe size?"

"Seven and a half. Um, why?"

"What do you mean, why? It's Christmas, don't ask why. Why do you think? I'm buying you a hat. I'm buying you a hat and I don't know your size, so I thought I could figure it out from your shoe size."

"Did you get the Christmas List I sent yesterday? I know it's kinda lame..."

"Lame? I cried when I read it. You ruined my Christmas just by sending that list! Lame??!!"

"I'm just asking, because shoes were not on that list. I don't think you should be buying me shoes."

"I threw that list out as soon as I got it, it was so pathetic. I'm just going to get you a few small things and give you cash. Besides, I have to spend most of my time shopping for your brother. Did you see that list? It must have taken him three weeks to put that together! Oooh! They have sweaters two for one! What size are you?"


"You want a sweater?"


"I know, you don't like high necks. But they have V-Necks. You like V-Necks?"

"Yeah, I like V-Necks. Say, are you in Wal-Mart? I don't want no Wal-Mart sweaters, Pop."

"Am I in Wal-Mart? I'm in Sports Authority! This year I'm buying all your gifts at the Sports Authority! How's that!!"

And now we have stumbled upon yet another reason why I didn't want to exchage gifts this year, or ever again, really.


Lexa said...

Last year my mom get me a "personal trimmer". All I could muster was "I bet Tim (bf) will really like this". She is the queen of horrible gift giving. I feel your pain, Nance. I would much rather she write a check to Planned Parenthood and be done with it.

lebrookski said...

wow...that's crazy. i don't see your sentiment as sanctimonious or cheesy. see, as a kid i think i used to think a lot like your brother. but now in hindsight, i realize how dumb it was (and i'm talking about dumb for me personally) because i have 7 brothers and sisters. Now, some of them have kids of their own...and gift giving is just such an expensive almost hassle, if you also add in aunts, uncles, and cousins. i think we're all to the point where really any of us really cares that much about what we're getting (except for my nieces and nephews, cause they're all pretty young) but we've pretty much just all come to an unspoken agreement that christmas is more about being able to have everyone together while that's still relatively possible. eventually statistics and numbers, etc will catch up with us.

yes, some small gifts will be exchanged, but i'm not asking anyone what they want...they'll just have to deal with what they get (as i'm going to do) and just appreciate the fact that after all these years...we haven't murdered each other.

Super Skater said...

Last year my brother put things on his Christmas list like, "Charcoal gray 2-ply v-neck cashmere sweater, slim fit. Doesn't matter what brand." Keep in mind this list ends up in the hands of my parents, who are definitely among the middle class, but the echelon of the middle class that doesn't think twice about buying clothes at Wal-Mart. Well, Ryan, you're right, the brand doesn't matter, because Mom and Dad will never find said sweater, and even if they do, they can't afford it! He also put a Bentley on the list, as well as his favorite Brazilian swimsuit model. I don't think he expected these items, but I did see him glance out to the driveway wistfully while we unwrapped gifts.

Joshua said...

Wow, X-mas sounds just as hard as Chanukah. All my non-Jewish friends have been lying to me! I'm one of the very few Jews I know who still gets presents as Chanukah is in reality a very minor holiday, but I can relate to the gift struggle you have described Cupcake. I know 10 year old Josh would be appalled that I asked for warm socks, but fuck, it's cold in my apartment. I need good socks. He'd understand.

Cupcake said...

SuperSkater, do we have the same brother? Are we, in fact, sisters? To be fair, on my brother's prioritized list he did list as the last item "World Peace". The first item was tickets to a Nets vs. Celtics game. Go figure.

And speaking of longing longingly towards the driveway, I still poke my head out the window to see if there is a pony waiting for me in the backyard. One of these years it will happen, especially if my Father ever finds ponies on sale for $4.99 at Wal-Mart. Hey! That's not a Pony, it's a Pany! Now with Vitamin R? Wha?

Josh, I agree. I think the item I want most of all is a coat tree; not a coat rack, bitches, a coat tree. A nice sturdy one to hold several winter coats. I picked out a nice one on but it is $29.99 plus shipping. And you still haven't answered my question as to who brings the presents on Hannukah. Do you arrange the presents around the mennorah? Oh God, I am being sincere and not facetious, I'd like to know, I have no idea.

Joshua said...

Did you ask that before? Well the presents are brought by who ever bought them. You get one or two each night and they are generally placed nearish the menorah or Chanukiah, but not under it 'cause then wax would get everywhere. There's no Chanukah Harry because in reality Chanukah is more a kin to a war memorial-the Syrian Greeks tried to kill us, but we beat them and speared their elephants and there is oil left-yay!! Outside of America and Canada it's not so much of a Christmas equivalent with the present giving, though perhaps that's changed what with the internet and the advent of the television.
I will post more as Chanukah approaches...