If you folks haven’t caught on, I’m not a very religious person…certainly not big on celebrating fake Christian holidays like Christmas. But since it’s a national holiday and I come from a long line of
sheep Christian-y people, I get roped into celebrating it nonetheless. I don’t put up decorations, but I do buy folks presents. Of course I buy said presents in early February and then box them up in a closet for ten months until I pull them out, maybe find time to wrap the big ones, and hand them out to in-laws that don’t like or remember me and my own family.
This brings up a few things…
First of the purchasing aspect.
As I said, I purchase my presents in early February. I purchased a certain kitchen tool, for which I can’t say what it is (because a few of my in-laws who do remember and family members read this and I don’t want them to know what I got them, yet), that usually sold for $30 a piece.
Y’know what? Fair disclaimer…if you are related to me,
by hook or by crook, err…by blood or by impending marriage, stop reading this one and go straight to the next point. Thanks!
As I was saying, all through November and December they cost $30 a piece. Well I got each one for $10. We wiped the store out, filled up the cart. But there still wasn’t enough for everybody, so we decided that each separate family will get one. That meant we still needed individual gifts. So we got some nifty blankets for everyone who is close on the family tree, which were normally $12-16 a piece. We got them for $2.
Then for the more distant relatives we got some coffee mugs which were usually $2.00 a piece, but we bought them 4 for a Dollar! Yeah, that’s 25 cents a piece.
We also had no huge lines, or rushes, or anything like that. It was actually fun shopping for all this stuff with my fiance.
Secondly…the ‘rub it in your face’ aspect.
This one isn’t so much about the in-laws so go ahead and read this part if you want, as long as you aren’t related to me by blood–nah, screw it, read it anyway. That’ll just make it so much sweeter to know that you realize what’s coming and there’s nothing you can do about it. (I’m diabolical, aren’t I?)
So, like I said before, I got a bunch of stuff for everybody. Spare stuff, even, and it’s not just mindless crap, either; it’s all stuff that can be used and may very well be enjoyed.
But it’s no secret that I come from relatively poor blood, so my family decided some years ago that we adults won’t exchange gifts. I think the past couple of years we haven’t even bought for each other’s children (of which I have none, so I was cool with that fact). But out of all my siblings, and until recently my mother included, I made the most money in my family. It comes from leaving the dried husks of my home town and moving into the city to get a real job in a place that has a functional economy.
Needless to say ‘we’ decided not to buy gifts for each other a few years (roughly when I moved to the city, 9 years ago) and that year I surprised everyone with some gifts. Because I’m that kind of asshole. I’d grown up as the black sheep of my family. My middle sister was always the favorite and my eldest sister always earned a begrudging respect from my mother. Even when my mother started up her own business, her eventual plan was to bring all three of her kids into the business.
First my middle sister came into the scene to help her with accounting (she had originally gone to college for Special Education Teaching, then switch majors to Psychology, then dropped out of college) and after a few years, my mother figured she would bring in my eldest sister. My eldest sister has been a telemarketer and telephone surveyor for years…which translated, to my mother, as her being experienced in ‘marketing’ so she would handle the marketing department.
Then there was ‘one’. And that one was me. I would be brought into the business to…uhh…?
Everybody needs a janitor, right? No, no, she couldn’t offer such a lowly position to me, of course; when compared to my sisters’ elevated positions as heads of Accounting and Marketing, respectively. So she finally came up with a plan: She would buy a building and let me rent it from her so that I could open a martial arts school. That was the plan she came up with.
Because here’s the problem: I’m sadly lacking in talent, experience, and competency in her eyes. I’m also physically and emotionally weak.
Well, okay so I am emotionally weak, I will admit that. I led a strange life that shattered my emotional capabilities (purposefully, mind you) to become the ultimate soldier. Then the Marine Corps said, “Oh, you now what? We don’t need you right now…go away; and don’t come back.” So I was the ultimate soldier. I could quote Sun Tzu, I could lead a crew of cadets through the woods with a faulty compass, I could sneak through a forest without snapping a twig, I could hit a can at fifty meters blind – using ‘muscle reflex aim’ with a rifle, and I…was working in a factory making paint, synthetic oil, and veneer coatings. But that has nothing to do with anything and was just kind of a tangential brain dump, sorry.
Anyway, back to the story at hand. So I’m talentless, inexperienced, incompetent, weak, lazy, and unwilling to learn. Totally neglecting that I showed her how to use a computer when I was seven, I built my first website before she even surfed the internet, and I finished a novel several years before her (I’ve got 3, she has none).
Without getting into what few talents I do actually have (most of them involve killing in some fashion, and in the Christmas spirit I’ll skip over that idea), I’m basically the black sheep of the family, as I said. It probably doesn’t help that I moved away as soon as I could (given the aforementioned brain dump, was it really a surprise?). But I am also the highest-grossing black sheep of the family. And I relish in the bastardic glee of the looks I receive from my siblings when I hand them a gift and they have nothing to give back. It gives me that one, little, petty step over them. It’s a small, meaningless step, but it’s still a step forward. The goal of any outnumbered, outmaneuvered, and outclassed combat force is to “Move forward with minimal losses”. That little step would cost them more than it would cost me, percentage-wise. And more importantly, I’m a petty bastard and it makes me feel better. So I do it. Moving on…
Thirdly the ‘you can’t catch me off guard’ aspect…
Going along with my abhorrent pettiness, comes the fact that I hate it when I’m on the receiving end of that little trick. My former co-worker and my buddy got me with this; each of them only once. My coworker never discussed gift exchanges, so it never crossed my mind. We were working a patrol together on Christmas Eve and he handed me a gift. I had nothing to give him back, so that night I got him some gourmet coffee and wrapped it, then took it into him the next day.
My buddy asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told him I barely tolerate exchanging gifts with family, I don’t exchange gifts with friends. He was cool with that, until the week before Christmas I showed up at his place for a gaming night. “Oh, by the way…I got you two $60 games. Here ya go, buddy!”
I got him something later, but it was just that one time he got me with that. The next year (which would have been last year, now) I now had a fiance to tote around. So I showed up at his place for a gaming night and he gave me a DS game. And I had my fiance hand him the Bath and Body Works gift card packet. The confused look on his face was great.
Oh, uhh, of course it was just a packet. The gift card inside was a GameStop Card. It was listed as from both of us. You know…from me, the guy he gave a DS game to, and also from my fiance…who he had no gift to give.
He almost gave her the blue-ray box set of the Spartacus series from HBO, but we didn’t have a Blue-Ray player. Which brings me to…
The only gifts we wind up waiting on are, inevitably, my fiance’s gift for me and my gift for her. So this year she’s one-upping me. I’m basically making a mix-tape of a bunch of hard-to-acquire music that she likes in a feeble attempt to live up to what she got me.
A 600GB Playstation 3 with Assassin’s Creed Revelations and the new Assassin’s Creed III!
It showed up in the mail (we bought it from Amazon) and it is sitting in the corner of the room. I have strict orders that I do not get to open it until Christmas. This is vengeance for the fact that last year I bought her Christmas present in March and wrapped it in July, and refused to give it to her or tell her what it was until Christmas. But I’m not allowed to even open the box it came in…