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The dreaded Christmas List [Nov. 29th, 2006|10:11 am]
Here it is again, time to give Mom the list of Christmas ideas. -- oh, I always love whatever you get for me...which, okay, is a bit of a fib. I mean, my family generally has really good taste, but my Mom loves to get me clothes that aren't really my style or that I don't really need and my Dad, well, you say to yourself, gosh, you can always use another flashlight, but at a certain point there's a flashlight everywhere you turn in your house. (although this is by now a bit of a misplaced snark, since the STBX has managed to aid in the disappearance of all but a few hardy flashlights that have cleverly hidden themselves someplace where you'd never expect a flashlight to be and have thus survived. And frankly, it's time for another flashlight assortment from Costco. But perfume sets, those I've got enough to last for the rest of my natural life span.)

So then I'd throw a few bones -- some cotton sweaters, a fleece jacket. And wind up with white sweaters (c'mon, Mom, you've watched me spill stuff on myself for 44 years...I've never grown out of it and it's only going to get worse) or a girly, powder blue fleece jacket with a kitten on it. Again, with knowing me longer than anyone else in the world...when have I ever given you the impression that I wear stuff like this? A tomboy, a punk, a yuppie slacker, business suits and basic black, heck, I barely wear jewelry.

So one year, I threw in the towel and got specific. And did it as only someone who used to do the wedding registry training at Williams-Sonoma can do -- carefully making sure that there were items in each price range, plenty of low to mid-ticket items, a few biggies. I even mentioned specific stores. (Although I never made the list as specific for them as I did for the STBX, where I'd learned to list the address of the store, the shelf location within the store and the SKU number, in order to ensure that I wouldn't wind up with another pancake spatula when what I really needed was an icing spatula.)

I thought, finally, a year of things that I really want and need.

How about a year where I got 2 things out of my whole list and dozens of things not even close. (My parents totally go overboard at Christmas.) I swear, it was MORE disappointing...having anticipated certain things and not getting them, than just getting things they chose for me. So I swore never another list.

(O, helpful people, please do not waste your valuable typing fingers suggesting gift certificates or cash as an option. Although frankly I love receiving them, in my family's world, they represent a grave failure of imagination and love and are only permitted for nieces and nephews who live a distance away and are rarely seen.)

But, they wear you down, asking, and asking. Threaten to buy me another greyhound-themed item...more dressy clothes that I never wear...perfume...so I try to make a small list, not count on getting any of it, or getting things slightly to the left or right of what I asked for...and I could live with that if only it weren't for....

List ridicule.

There is always at least one item, if not more, that are greeted with "Item X? What in the world do you need THAT for?" in a tone of disdain that may not be discernible to the world at large, but is acutely loud to the offspring at which it's beind directed. And sure, with my friends, I'd snap back "I'll use it when I'm having wild sex with scruffy bikers while hanging from the chandelier. Don't worry about what I'm going to use it for...I just want it, isn't that enough?"

Or, "A Shop-Vac? Well, your father and I aren't going to get you that. That you can get on your own." Well, duh, Mom, actually ALL of the stuff I on the list I can get on my own. Sorry, but some years, I really need utilitarian stuff and they don't make shop-vac's in fun colors with sequins. Or, "a chafing dish, don't you have enough kitchen stuff?" You're right, I'm asking for things that I already have and don't need. Just, ummm, to fulfill the assignment. Plus, your reaction when I put the new Hitachi vibrator with 14 attachments on my list -- well, that might just put us both in the hospital.


So now the Christmas list has to be carefully crafted, edited to remove all possible items that might seem frivolous or too utilitarian or....aw, screw it...maybe I'll just make a wager on which item will win the "why would you want that" award, the "we're not getting you THAT" prize and the grand prize, the "You don't need that" award.

(Disclaimer: I love my Mom and understand that this is a behavior that has been carefully passed down from generation to generation. I do remember HER mother doing the same exact thing and do believe that my mother has managed to tone it down quite a bit. Although I have to confess that I do wish we'd passed down more useful behaviors along our female line...I dunno, the ability to thread a needle, even to be helpless and let men do things for us...good veins in our legs, small feet, something...)

[User Picture]From: thatliardiego
2006-11-29 03:17 pm (UTC)
You simply have no idea how much of this mirrors my parents' behavior when it comes to The List.

There was the year I simply asked for white, french-cuff dress shirts. Just white. That's all.

I got one white, one gray, and two blue. I asked why, and my father, the career diplomat with 32 years of service under his belt, the man whom one ambassador joked "has a a suit in every color of the same shade of blue," says, "I thought you needed some variety."

My brother, the science-fiction nut, who has more than three thousand books, nearly always has books on his list. This is something of which you would think most parents would be proud. My parents, for any number of years, pointedly ignored all his requests for books, and would get him clothes (all sorts of things not his style, such as it is), saying, "He doesn't need to have his nose in a book -- he needs to go out and meet some girls. Maybe if he wore this sweater..."

They all but ruined the holiday for him.

And yes, there's the "We're not getting you THAT" award as well. I got this for years when it came to magic books. Since most of the world is uninformed about this, magic publishers make print runs of about a thousand books. Small print runs cost more. If a book goes into a second printing, it's a bestseller. So most of them start at about 40 dollars, and rise rapidly.

One year, I had an old catalog from Louis Tannen of NYC, one of the oldest and most storied magic dealers in America. It was from 1977, the year I first started doing shows. My father was nearby, and I showed him the prices of some of the props of mine that they threw away when I went into the USAF and they packed all their stuff up and moved to Thailand. Stuff that went for 30 dollars then goes for $300 now -- and that's if the maker is still alive or if the company that made the stuff didn't fold.

That year, they bought me "the encyclopedia of magic," the Tarbell Course. Eight volumes, hardback. $99 in 1977 -- $350 now.

Guilt is a wonderful thing. And it works both ways.
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[User Picture]From: faithellen
2006-11-29 03:36 pm (UTC)
What if you made up sealed envelopes containing the item name and labeled them "Why would you want that?" etc., and did a Karnak routine? Would that at least cause a good group laugh, or would it be seen as amusing only to you (and me, of course) and antagonistic to others?
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[User Picture]From: mistressfetch
2006-11-29 04:34 pm (UTC)
You know, you said no gift certificates but what about Chico's gift certificates...yeah yeah yeah, they are impersonal but...........come on, it's Chico's!!!

At least your dad doesn't give you OLD BROKEN CAMERAS from 1950/1960. I wish I was kidding about that...I have a nice box full in the closet somewhere of OLD BROKEN CAMERAS from 1950/1960... Oh, it would be cool if they worked and I could take some really artsy photos w/ them, etc. I don't know where he got the idea that I wanted OLD BROKEN CAMERAS from 1950/1960 but alas I just got another one as a belated birthday gift when I stopped and had dinner with him at WAFFLE HOUSE (hehehehe) in Harrisonburg, VA on my way to Asheville, NC....

My mother will send me 2 boxes full of STUFF that I won't/can't use and half of it will be religious in origin and will go to the Goodwill...Every year she sends me AT LEAST 3 Bibles in various sizes and she signs the inside cover with some verse and dedicates it to me...

Christmas bites for Magpie!!! That is why I always do "Merry XMAS to ME!!!!". One year it was an $800.00 white/yellow gold necklace from Zales, the next was my diamond hoop earrings and this year, well this year it will be my $2000.00 Lawyer fee (remind me to tell you about this Tuesday)...

Hmmm this turned into a book....
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[User Picture]From: pyratelady
2006-11-30 02:25 am (UTC)
Silly lady... don't you know that gift giving is all about the giver and not about the giftee?

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From: (Anonymous)
2006-12-01 04:35 pm (UTC)
I am making your blog a daily read from now on. It is better than Dave Barry.

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