Friday, December 4, 2009

If You Don't Smile, I'll Give You A Big Gay Stick

     Today is December 4th. There are 21 days till Christmas, that's 20 shopping days + 1 emergency shopping day (Christmas Eve). For many years I would make it my goal to be done with 99% of all Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. I would make lists of the people I needed and wanted to get gifts for, then I would start to brainstorm ideas... and then go about trying to get every single item.

     Rarely were these gifts things that I was 100% sure the person wanted. What I have to come to realize is that they were gifts I not only believed they might want (or need), but in many cases they were gifts that I really wanted them to love. Gifts that I believed, at the time, might be able to show the person how much I care about them. I would never stoop so low as to say "if only you knew how hard this was to find", or "this cost a ton of money, but you're worth it!" They were gifts that I thought would make it overly obvious how hard I was thinking about them.

     Seldom did that work. There were times when I would come across a beautiful piece of jewelry that reminded me of my Mother. I would buy it for her in the hopes that her reaction would be that of absolute joy. In truth, she has gotten VERY good at perfecting her reactions to things. In fact I still remember her being elated with the gold painted, glitter covered, glued macaroni book mark when I was a kid. How someone can be excited about that (or even convincingly fake any excitement) is beyond me. C'mon... the thing was nothing more than a paint stirring stick in hardcore drag. "Look Mom! I made you a big gay stick! Love you!" She is a very gracious woman, and possibly the most generous person I know - in every sense. I totally lucked out in the "Mom Dept."

     A few years in a row now I have given some gifts to friends that I believed they would love. Clearly I was wrong... but what went wrong? A few years back I was listening to one of my best friends, Colin, go on and on about the game "Risk" with their best friend (Christian). They were talking endlessly that night about how much they loved that game and how they both wanted to play it again, but neither of them owned it.  This was also the same year that Colin was completely enamored with all things "Lord of the Rings"... so you know what I found? A freakin' Lord of the Rings edition of Risk..... and I presented it to him at Christmas with such hope that a "holy shit!" or "dude! that's awesome!" would follow. Nope. In fact, you know where that game currently is? Still in plastic under his bed..... right next to the GORGEOUS chess board and gothic style pieces that I got him the year before.... I'm also guessing the high tech drum sticks that work with an iPod so he can play "air drum" when listening to his iPod and hear himself play are under there too. I thought FOR SURE those would be excellent... you know, since he's a drummer and is rarely in the house without his iPod on. I don't think he ever even put the batteries in, let alone took it out of the package. I just wish I could find something he'd like and use. He's a good friend and it sucks that I can't find that "perfect something."  Last year I bought him a Wii. You know how many times he has played it since Christmas 2008? 4 times. Yup... 4 times... and one of those times might not really count since the other person that was in the room that day sorta "took over." I think I've used it more, and I don't even like video games. Of course I kinda got put off after I spent an evening throwing 98 mph fastballs in Wii baseball and woke up the next day with a shoulder injury. There was also the evening when I "threw" the ball so hard I farted. That was, in honesty, absolutely hysterical. It really was a helluva pitch though... the ball throw that is...not the sound I made.

     It's not a matter of me thinking someone doesn't appreciate a gift. It's that I am bummed if I think they didn't like it, if I think that THEY think I didn't put enough thought into it. The people in my life, the ones I love, the ones I really wish I could do nice things for, buy nice things for, make nice things for... I hate feeling like I've disappointed them. I go home thinking they are questioning what the hell I was thinking.

     One year my friend Molly was going on and on and on about how badly she wanted a red fuzzy angora sweater. I FOUND ONE! (At J.Crew)... it was waaaay more $$$ than I should have spent, but so what!? She was a good friend at the time and I wanted to finally give her something she might like and wear. (And make up for the year before when I spent two weeks knitting her a GIANT thick scarf with ridiculously overpriced yarn (seriously, by the time I finished, I think that stupid scarf cost me more than I would have spent if I'd gone ahead bought one at a high end department store), 'cause I had just wanted so badly to make her something she wanted and would use, and 'cause I actually made the whole thing by hand I thought it might be a better gift. I think she wore both those items once... and possibly only because she grabbed one by mistake when heading out the door. No one should feel bad for not liking a gift, I just feel bad if they don't like it. I mean, who wouldn't? It's hard to explain.. 'cause you don't want people pretending to like stuff... or they'll just keep getting that stuff. It's like if someone makes an awful dinner, you're usually not gonna tell 'um it tastes like vomit, but if you act like it's incredible... guess what's gonna be on the menu next time you have dinner at their place? If they think you love it, they are making it to please you. Catch 22 right there.

     As if I didn't feel crappy enough about never giving Molly what she wanted... one year, right before I was moving to Scotland for about 6 months, I went to Molly's house on Christmas night. It was a sort of tradition to go to Molly's (and her, now ex, boyfriend's) house on Christmas night. I went there empty handed, because A) I was leaving for Scotland in the morning, and B) Molly and I had promised "no gifts" that year to each other. Molly broke her promise. When I arrived, she sat me down on the sofa next to her, handed me a fairly large square box, and a small card that read:
i just wanted you to know someone was listening. Love - Molly
Inside the brightly wrapped package was a crock pot. I cried. I actually freakin' cried. I had been wanting a crock pot for YEARS... and Molly knew it, and let me tell you... I abuse the hell outta that thing all winter, every winter. It might be my favorite appliance, second only to my Kitchen Aid mixer which I'd cut a bitch over if someone tried to harm it. So, guess it was ok that Molly broke her promise that time. But I felt horrible that I was never able to give her something that I thought she'd like as much as I love that crock pot.

     As the years have gone by I have wished for nothing more than a gift free holiday. A Christmas where no one but young kids were gettin' gifts. Though, how cool to start them really young to not expect the packages upon packages under the tree on December 25th. As the years have gone by and the stress of the holidays increases (man, they really don't teach you THAT ONE in school!)... all I ever wanted was a stress free Christmas. A gathering of people, friends and family, a good meal and some laughs. Last year I got it. Only a VERY small amount of people got gifts from me... and even those gifts were minimal ('cept for Colin's Wii... though it does make for a funny story to say "I bought Colin a Wii, and he gave me a pair of red converse sneakers that he got at a discount since they came from the store he works at.... and I made a LOUD point of saying "man, these black converse that I wear all the time, in a guy's size 9 would be GREAT in red, don't you think?" (Just for the record, I really wanted those converse, and he DID ask me what I wanted. So, he did indeed get me the perfect gift)  But, Christmas 2008, a bunch of us gathered at my Mom's house on Christmas. Family and friends, people that couldn't afford to get home for the holidays, or had a screwy work schedule and couldn't go home for the holidays. Everyone brought some food... no gifts. It was AMAZING, and exactly what had I wanted.

     See, Christmas sorta lost that "magic" for me in my early 20's. One year I had come home from college and noticed something was definitely wrong at home. My parents were sitting in the family room. Dad in his recliner reading the paper ... and Mom sitting across the room from him on the sofa reading a magazine. No one was speaking. I walked into the room, stood there for a second then sat down and said "ok.. what the fuck is going on here?" (yes, I said that.) My father dropped his paper down to look at me, then looked at my Mother... then back at me and said "Your mother doesn't love me anymore and wants a divorce." My Mom's jaw dropped. I really don't think she expected my Dad to just say it like that. I looked at both of them, told them I'd be back, and grabbed the phone and walked out to the garage. Once I had sat down, and lit about 7 cigarettes in a row, I called the only person I could think to call at that moment. I called Neisha. She was eating dinner with her family, and she asked if she could call me back in like 15 minutes. I said yes, never telling her why I was calling,... then I sat there and smoked like 10 more cigarettes in the freezing cold garage waiting for the phone to never ring. Then I cried.

     I cried because my parents had just told me they were getting divorced. I cried because I had just stopped believing that any relationship could ever last. I cried because my once favorite holiday was now going to be tainted with this memory for the rest of my life.... and I cried because I knew I had to go back inside and say something.
    I decided that it was not in anyone's best interest to remind my parents that the way they met was Christmas tree shopping. See, that year, the year they met... my Mom's Father had to go do rounds at the hospital (he was an eye surgeon) and her Mom was ill... but they needed a Christmas tree. So my Mom's Mother called a family she was friends with, knowing their son, Fraser, was home for the holidays, and asked if he was free to help their daughter, Margo, go pick up a Christmas tree. He was, and he did. On August 17th, 1968, Margo and Fraser got married... and then just hours before Christmas Eve 1993 they announced their divorce. That's some fucked up symmetry right there folks.  So, as you can see... NOT a fan of Christmas.

     I've tried over the years to "get in the spirit." I've decorated... I've gone all out some years... I've wrapped gifts to the extent that people have commented on the elaborate wrapping job more than the gift itself. I've put on red and/green clothes. I've painted freakin' candy canes on my face with eye shadow & glittery eyeliner. I've thrown parties and I've gone to holiday parties........ still hated Christmas. The only thing that ever gave me joy at the holidays was the thought that I might be able to give someone a gift they'd love... but I still never seem to give them the right thing. There is not a much more disappointing feeling than feeling like you have disappointed someone. That's what Christmas is to me... a big fat let down on all fronts.
     Last year I was given hope. Last year I was on top of the fucking world. Last year I had even higher hopes for this Christmas... yeah... those hopes were destroyed mid February 2009... but I'm not gonna talk about that. I've had ENOUGH of that. Those that know me best know what I'm talking about... anyone clueless... just know something supremely sucktastic happened, and we'll leave it that. Seriously, you really don't wanna "go there." (... and neither do I)

    Now that there are just a few short weeks to go before Christmas... weeks filled with Christmas music on every damn radio station, and in every store you enter. Weeks filled with frantic people freaking out over what to buy, who to buy for, how much has been spent, how much should be spent.... but spending $$$$$ no matter what. Weeks filled with trying to decide if it's possible to make it to three Christmas parties in one night. Oh! And then that final week right before Christmas when all the friends and family that have moved away come back and people scramble to see everyone. It's all just so damn stressful. I thrive in chaos, but not stress... does that make sense? Give me a room full of 10 people that need to get to 10 different places, and only 2 cars... I can figure that stuff out NO PROBLEM. Tell me 5 of the people aren't feeling well, 2 of them are injured, 2 of them need my help immediately finishing projects completely unrelated to each other, and 1 of them needs me to bake a three tiered, fully decorated, cake in under three hours... forget it, my brain will explode. *kAbLoOiE*

     Alas... I'm in no mood for Christmas this year.... in fact I wish it could be skipped all together and we could just get to 12:01am Jan. 1st, 2010. Then this whore of a year will be over, Christmas will be over (though, lets face it, 75% of Christmas lights in the neighborhood will be up till at least March)...and we can all really get on our merry way.... the problem is, I don't have a time machine. I've considered stopping Michael J. Fox on the street multiple times (yeah, he lives out here too, part of the year) to ask him where the Delorean from "Back To The Future" is kept... 'cause I'd abuse the !@#$ outta that thing! But I can't change the past... and the future will always remain there.. in the future... so it looks like I am going to have to try something new this year. Maybe I will bother with a tree... maybe I'll make a few gifts, send a few cards.....(I used to send over 250 cards at Christmas, can you believe that?! True story.)... and maybe just maybe I'll find some holiday spirit...... but in the meantime, please know that if I give you something... there WAS thought put into it. I DID pick it out, or make it, JUST for you... and I don't give anyone anything in hopes of receiving anything more than the knowledge that I gave you a smile.
     That said, I'm dead broke... so if I give/make you anything... just call my Mom and ask her how to fake that "thanks for the big gay stick" smile. That woman has it down.


.........and just for the sake of silliness... this entire thing has been written while listening to these songs over and over again.... 'cause they  make me smile:

yeah, I'm a dork.. get over it.. I love that music


  1. Journey AND Bobby Darin? Heaven!

    I hate Christmas. I'm buying everyone a big gay stick this year. Just one--they can all share it.

  2. Journey AND Africa Bambaataa (it's pretty much the greatest mash up of two songs EVER)

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