Saturday, December 12, 2009

Santa's Bringing Me A Big Ol' Lump Of Coal

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I'm a bad daughter in law.

I've posted before about how I'm not a fan of telling people what I want them to buy me for Christmas. If you know me well enough to buy me something I'd love, great. If not, I really don't need anything, and I don't know you well enough to expect anything from you.

My in-laws have decided that their Christmas shopping for my whole family now involves a trip to the store. They choose the store, then we choose our gifts.


Honestly, I'd rather receive nothing from my in-laws, and I'd be totally cool with that, but they can't do that, so off we go to the store.

In the store, my husband immediately decides he could go for a couple new shirt and tie combos. Since there are approximately 25,642,320,483 color and pattern and fabric choices available at any given moment, this takes some time, especially for someone not too confident in the fashion department.

While my husband chooses his presents, I am left to entertain the two bored wee ones who are used to going shopping with me and having a job to do. Unfortunately there aren't too many possible jobs for the overtired children while Daddy looks at ties, so it's a full-time gig.

Then Mister Man decides he's thirsty, so I take him to go find the drinking fountain at the other end of the massive store. Little Miss can't be left behind, so she catches up to us. As we're heading back to find Daddy, he has finished and is now helping his mom look for presents for the wee ones.

Not surprisingly, he asks for help. I somehow manage to simultaneously entertain the wee ones and keep them oblivious and also point out some potential choices for them to then figure out.

Realizing that I'm the only one left to choose a present and no opportunity to do so as yet, I ask my husband to watch the wee ones while I head to the front of the store to look at the clothes. Because of course, it's so easy to choose clothes for yourself when given an eight minute time limit and no opportunity to try anything on.

I do somehow find a sweater that I like, but my size is missing. I see another shirt that may be an opportunity, but without trying it on, I'm not sure. That's about when my father in law appears and insists that I tell him what I found.

I am now getting the maybe it'll be ok shirt for Christmas, and he insists on asking one of the workers to look for the sweater in my size. No dice after ten minutes, but they insist I need something else.

Having seen nothing else and at this point soooo not in the mood to shop, I suggest to my husband that he pick out an Oxo super sealing container. We have a bunch at home, but there are never enough. I big puffy heart them. Trust me, a circus of each of us trying to find the others ensues, but I'm working on getting to my point.

We finally meet up, and my husband has apparently been successful, so I know I'm getting at least one of the containers for Christmas, and that's fine. My in laws wrap the presents and send them home with us since it's "too much of a hassle" for my retired in laws to visit us over Christmas and come to our house for the first time in eighteen months (yes, that was a direct quote from my father in law).

After we get home, all the presents are placed in the basement to await the tree that I swear we *are* getting at some point this season. I immediately forget about them.

Or, I forget about them until I'm trying to remove all clutter from my house in anticipation of two parties I hosted at my house in the last week. I have a giant box of Cheerios that really doesn't fit on the counter but has nowhere else to go.

I decide that I could put it into my cereal dispenser if I could find a place for the mostly gone knockoff brand (but surprisingly better for you) rice square cereal. All my handy little containers are in use. Until I remember my Christmas present sitting in the basement.

After all, my in laws aren't going to see me at Christmas time. They will never know -- nor are they likely to care -- if I open it early. Right?


It worked out perfectly, and my counter was blissfully clear for both parties. Oddly, I don't even feel a little guilty. It doesn't really feel like a Christmas present. But at the same time, when I think about it rationally, I think I should feel like the most evil daughter in law. But isn't it pretty holding my cereal?

What's the most Christmas tradition you've most gone against?


Anonymous December 12, 2009 at 8:22 PM  

I feel just like you do. In my hub's family, they make a very detailed list of what they want, the items are purchased, and the exchange is made. There is no thought required of the buyer and there is no surprise. What's the point? They claim everyone gets what they want, but to me it ends up being an exchange of cash. Worthless. So this year we're using the jobless excuse to not get/receive gifts from anyone and it's fabulous.

Lourie December 12, 2009 at 8:23 PM  

Hmmmm...the one that I can think of is that in my husband's family Santa filled the stockings and brought other little presents. In my family, Santa filled the stockings, brought the cool presents, and to make it even more fun Santa always used one kind of wrapping paper, then "left it behind." I wouldn't budge on that tradition. It was my way or no way. I don't know if that qualifies as breaking tradition, or if it is more of a selfish thing.

Unknown December 12, 2009 at 8:45 PM  

What a funny post! Just stopping by from the SITS Saturday Sharefest.

Teacher Tom December 12, 2009 at 9:19 PM  

Fantastic post! Funny and smart.

About 10 years ago all the adults in my extended family decided that we would stop buying gifts and exhange only handmade gifts that cost $5 or less. It has been a godsend. I'm often still scrambling at the last minute, but at least I'm now out in the garage with my tools or in the kitchen baking.

At some point the whole whole present thing just gets to be a hassle or just another commercial exchange.

There is nothing less joyful -- with kids or not -- than being in a store at this time of year.

Anonymous December 12, 2009 at 11:03 PM  

OMG. You took the words right out of my mouth (fingers!) I HATE, HATE, HATE that in the last week I have gotten several phonecalls and e-mails asking what the kids and I want for Christmas - from FAMILY NO LESS! I say more power to you for opening the gift early! I actually let my kiddos open gifts from out-of-town family when the arrive to eliminate some of the boredom that comes from opening a ridiculous number of presents on Christmas day (which has the added benefit of entertaining them while I get my holiday baking and such done.)

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma December 13, 2009 at 1:53 AM  

Oh my, what a painful shopping trip!

We try to help our daughter and son-in-law keep things relatively simple for the grandkids. We don't buy huge amounts of stuff, and some of what we do buy we just give them at different times of year. (We do full-time daycare, so we need to freshen the daycare book-and-toy supplies periodically anyway.)

Do NOT feel guilty about using your gift ahead of time.... It's useful, you're enjoying it, life is good. Cheers.

Tara R. December 13, 2009 at 6:39 AM  

We've tried the whole 'just buy for the grandkids' idea only to have the grans break their own rules, so we have to have stand-by gifts ready for our own rule breaking. Tiresome.

You could always rewrap the container later and feign surprise when you open it.

WeaselMomma December 13, 2009 at 7:45 AM  

Yay for happy containers! That's better than a Christmas sweater any day of the year.

septembermom December 13, 2009 at 1:31 PM  

Good use for that container! I'm with you that I would be stressed and exhausted in a store with all of us trying to pick out something. Gratefully, my inlaws just give us money as adults.

Cookie December 13, 2009 at 7:44 PM  

Yikes! That shopping trip sounds like a nightmare! I'm sure your in-laws mean well. at least i hope so :S

Michelle December 14, 2009 at 12:48 PM  

Shelly - Yep. I'm right there with you. I was told by my SIL what I was buying her for years. She bought her husband's Christmas present "from" us, wrapped it, and presented us with a bill - without asking us if that's what we wanted to do.

Lourie - I love the leaving the paper behind. That's perfect. And I totally get you wanting to keep that!

Paige - Thanks :) Glad you liked it!

Tom - Aww, such a good answer from a teacher! I'm with you on the homemade. I'd love to get that instituted in my family, but ....

Nichole - Glad I could help you express it. I like the opening presents early idea for the out of towners. Otherwise, we end up with presents that just sit there because there are too many! That's also why it takes us a month and a half to open birthday presents each year.

Blissed-Out Grandma - Thanks for the absolution. I appreciate it.

Tara - Yeah, people don't really follow the rules. It sould be so much easier to do it the way we agree upfront.

WeaselMomma - I love my containers. And I want more still! Christmas sweaters? Not so much.

Kelly - And even money... I'd honestly rather get nothing. Which I suppose is proof of how blessed I am, right?

Dawn - I wouldn't go quite that far. And they do mean well; they just really don't *get* it.

betty-NZ December 20, 2009 at 11:21 PM  

I learned a long time ago that people do the best they can, even if it doesn't seem like it to me.

"It's the thought that counts" should be everyone's motto at this time of year. After all, it's only a few days that are disrupted--unless, of course, you choose to gripe and grumble longer.

Merry Christmas!

Michelle March 8, 2010 at 2:55 PM  

Betty - They do; you're right about that. It is only a few days, but there are still some things that drive me batty. I did feel guilty about opening the present though, but I'm over all of it now!

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