Tag Archives: shopping horror story

Gift-Buying: the Scourge of the Holidays

9 Dec

It’s time for a bonus mid-week blog post. There’s just too much to write about this time of year!!!

I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop – Benlee’s – and basking in the Christmas glory of about a dozen Christmas trees of various sizes, carols playing, and Highlander Grogg in my coffee cup. A fire blazes – well, smolders – in the hearth and I am forced to admit something to myself. Something that I have secretly known for a long time but have never said out loud before. (What is this blog becoming anyway? A confessional?)

I am not good at choosing Christmas gifts.

Finding the perfect items for my immediate family is not too difficult, though it’s funny how some years are easier for certain people. I’m doing pretty well for my husband this year, for example, whereas in other years I’ve been pulling out my hair by this point in Santa-induced frustration. The kids, too, are usually not too hard to figure out…though my pocketbook may beg to differ.

My favorite antique ornaments - all bought for a song at various "antique"/junk stores or garage sales.

But consider this: THE BROTHERS-IN-LAW.

Oy, vey, how I have failed them!

I try. I try all year long. Come January, I’m on the lookout for The Perfect Gift – for my sisters and their husbands, my dad, my mom, my nieces and nephews and their kids. (Yes, I’m a great-aunt. Makes me sound like I wear horned-rimmed spectacles and scold the neighborhood children every time they roll a ball into my pristine yard. “You hoodlums!” she said, shaking her fist. “Leave my flowers alone! Now get over here and help me rescue my cat from the tree.”)

Part of the problem, of course, is that with adults, you’re dealing with people who can go out and buy whatever the heck they want at any time of the year so they’re not sitting around, writing hopeful wish-lists and posting them to the North Pole.

This means you are forced to be creative. Or very smart. Or to shop on Black Friday. (NO STINKIN’ WAY.) Or to spend vast amounts of money. Problem: my self-imposed Christmas budget-per-person is approximately the same as it was during the Bush Administration. The first George. About 24 years ago.

My door swag. I like making wreaths, but I got lazy this year. A wreath takes...oh, an hour or so. Time for this swag: 10 minutes, tops.

So I try being creative, because when it comes to gifts, I simply am not smart. Exhibit A: A few years back, I found myself, come this time of year, pondering my brother-in-law who lives on Orcas Island. “He’s an out-doors-ish kind of guy,” I thought. “He goes hunting and camps out when he hunts. Doesn’t he?” (Answer: not exactly. He’s in an RV…but it’s an ancient, only-slightly-above-a-tent sort of vehicle with no running water and even its delusions of grandeur were long-ago rusted off.)

So, taking my vast knowledge of him to the L.L.Bean website, I began to shop. “This thing? Too expensive. That thing? I think he has one. This? Hmmm…well…maybe!” And so Charley got a lantern for Christmas that year. Now, lest you applaud me, allow me to describe said lantern: it was eight inches tall, black, decorated with a moose, and held a tea light candle as its entire light-source.

Charley, bless his heart, has a sense of humor. I don’t THINK he said, “What am I supposed to do with this?” but he probably thought it. I responded to his unsaid thought like this: “Well, everyone needs a light when camping, right?” Charley [tentatively]: “Yes…” Me [always the optimist]: “Well, now you have a nice new one!” Charley [looking skeptical]: “But it’s too small to help much.” Me [looking on the bright side]: “Yes, but it’s so romantic!”

Charley burst into laughter. It lasted quite a long time.

This year I’m afraid that I’ve given him new reason to laugh. But at least his gift will be practical. That is, if he doesn’t mind holding open-mouthed fish cozies on his beer cans.

Charley's gift this year. He's a fisherman...so...he'll like these. Right?

Yes. I’m serious. That’s what I got him. What? It fit my budget. And my sister says he’ll use them. That and the Mini Mexican sombrero set with tiny-bottle-of-tequila that my husband bought in Mexico for all the bros-in-law and nephews (they’re all adults!) for their stocking gifts will fit the bill quite nicely.

Good thing they don’t read my blog.

Stocking gifts for the brothers-in-law and nephews. We have these giant stockings...and you've got to fill them somehow!!

Merry shopping, everyone!!

PS – my sister really liked the lantern.

PS #2 – I really do love my brothers-in-law. Good thing they know that.

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