I Love Practical Gifts!

The holiday season is now upon us as we begin our hunt for the perfect tree, snuggle up with someone special next to the fire, eat gingerbread cookies and take pictures with the mall Santa.

The holidays are all about finding the perfect gift and in return, hoping that the same amount of holiday magic is headed your way. How many times, though, have we all opened a gift, mentally groaned and then turned to respond “Wow this is exactly what my life needed! How did you know?”

Yes, the dread of the bad gift. The gifts that make absolutely no sense, that are everything you are not and scream “put the lid back on this box before you become nauseous!” For me, this gift came in 2007 and has stuck to me like glue ever since.

The Christmas season started in my house like any other —we pulled out the tree, put up lights, sang Christmas carols loudly and out of tune and watched “Trains, Planes and Automobiles” till we all felt light hearted and merry. Nothing was at all different than last year and I thought this Christmas could only get better.

In 2007, I was a graduating senior applying to my dream schools. I had just been given a car. I had discovered Starbucks iced tea and was working with kids in our music program and was finally seeing some improvement! Yes, 2007 was going to be a great Christmas.

From all of this, I thought nothing but excitement when I spotted a giant box under the tree, with a tag delicately tied around it and inscribed with my name. Could it be a laptop? I mean, I was going to college soon and it was a necessity.

Or maybe it was boxes inside boxes and at the bottom was a piece of jewelry in celebration of me going on to college? But wait! Of course it could always be a new purse or maybe my parents finally took my seriously and got me a puppy!

Christmas morning arrived and I can hardly contain my excitement. I had a planned outfit that a new purse and earrings would go quite nicely with and a multitude of uses for my new laptop. The box was placed in front of me by my smiling parents and they looked on with anticipation I ripped off the wrapping paper.

A car cover! A CAR COVER? Maybe it’s a new purse inside of the box that a car cover was once in? Nope. Then I uttered the words so overused in the gift giving world “I love it. How did you know I wanted this?”

At the time, and still to this day, I really wanted to ask “Why do you dislike me enough to inflict this present upon me? And how am I ever going to try and fit it back into this bag?” And so began the relationship between me and my car cover.

An ally with my father but an enemy of mine, I tried to befriend this Christmas gift from hell but the weather and my new car clothing had other plans. I have chased it down the street on windy days, peeled if off my car when it is raining and pulled muscles when trying to get it back into its original bag.

I finally understood the kids who complained about the ridiculous gifts of their past. I understood the encyclopedias when they were five, the calendars they have gotten every year, the scrub brush that ended up taking off their first layer of skin, and the book covers you bought for your cousin that were given back to you the next year. Knowing we are all not tiny Tim and completely absorbed with the holiday spirit, those kids had reason to complain and not told simply “it’s the thought that counts.”

So before we turn to tell off the person whose idea it was to get you a dish towel when you have no kitchen or cell phone case when you have no cell phone, take a deep breath, throw on a smile and reply, “This is exactly what I have been asking for my whole life. My existence is now complete, thank you.” For all we can do is hope for a painless return policy and that next year will turn out a little better.