The Players: Mom, Dad, the goddess, and siblings
The Setting: Thanksgiving 2005, at the home of my dear mother and father.
At one end of the dinning table sits Mom, in her very clean Thanksgiving apron, which is adorned with a glittery cornucopia. She sports perfect nails and a matching knit pantsuit. My father occupies the opposite head of the table; his sweater, complete with elbow patches, is older than I am and his Sansabelt pants pre-date Columbus. Between these two very opposite parents sit the offspring, all unique in their own rights. Therefore, it is not obvious which one of us drew from my mom’s designer gene pool and who grabbed from my dad’s practical genetic line.
Act 1: All are happy gorging on both kinds of sweet potatoes, turkey, ham, and, yes, brussels sprouts. The wine is nice and helps the conversation about the upcoming holidays flow. And then the question that always divides us is uttered: “What do you want for Christmas”? Team #1, the Sansabelt Slayers vs. Team #2, the St. John Knits.
As always, Captain Sansabelt retorts, “Don’t get me a thing”! After many years of my dad re-gifting back to me the very present I thought he absolutely couldn’t live without, I finally took him seriously and now I don’t buy him anything. My Dad’s poo-pooing of gift giving was always perceived as cheap, grinchy behavior, but as I get older I hear myself saying the same thing to that fateful question. And so, without any regrets, I have been converted to the Sansabelt Slayers. Go team.
Act 2: The St. John Knits dramatically return with the most ridiculous response I have ever heard: “Please don’t tell me you don’t want a present because that makes Christmas really difficult!” What the corn does that mean? I’m sorry, but it is my understanding that not making a Christmas list a mile long would make the holidays less hectic. As tensions and fists rise, the goddess takes center stage to suggest that presents should be for the children. But the St. John Knits have finished their shopping in July and everything is already wrapped in Christmas paper, so forget about saving it for birthdays. Am I now forced to give and receive against my will? I turn to my father, who has this all-knowing smirk on his face like he has just passed the torch of grinch-hood; he exits stage left.
Act 3: As I gaze into my mother’s and siblings’ squinted eyes, I feel like such a biatch for not wanting a bunch of crap that I don’t need; feeling the pressure bear down on me, I say, “Get me a gift card from Saks.” The release of air from their lungs is unbelievably loud, because gift cards are so impersonal that I might as well have asked for a vacuum. Throwing up my hands, I slither offstage, wondering where my backup is, and succumb to the fact that I will most likely receive house slippers that I will never wear, or a scarf that will end up in my kids’ dress-up trunk.
The Conclusion: Fast-forward to Thanksgiving 2006. Here I sit again, eating furiously just to get out of the room to avoid “the question.” But, to my surprise, my sister, who was predestined to be the leader of the St. John Knits asks, “So, about Christmas, are the adults going to exchange gifts this year or not?” My dad and I do a double take and reply simultaneously, “Gifts for the kids only.” With that the, the Sansabelt Slayers gained a bunch of new members, and this year’s Thanksgiving was enjoyed by all.
Happy shopping, or not.