Bah, Humbug – I Hate Getting Gifts

21 12 2010

The saying goes, “Tis’ better to give than receive” and no one, no one, no one believes this more than I.

I HATE getting gifts.  Well, I want to get gifts, but my expectations are so high and they are never met and I always fail to be gracious.  So, someone hands me a gift and I start to feel a bit queasy.  I already feel guilty and I haven’t even opened it yet.  Yuck.

Some of this stems from my mother (I know it is unfair to blame one’s mother for most things but in this case it is true.  Just ask my sister, she’ll tell you.)

My mother loves to give gifts.  If my mother orders a present from a catalog or online she has it shipped to her house first so she can see it, touch it, feel it, wrap it and pay double postage when she then has to send it to you.  But my mother wants you to LOVE the gift she gave you as much as she does.  If you want to exchange it for a different color or slightly different style, you have just proven yourself unworthy.

When we were growing up if she gave us a gift and we asked where it was from, the jig was up.  She would immediately say, “I’ll just keep it.”  Or, “I will send it back.”  (The unsaid part of that is, “You won’t get the money or be able to exchange it.”)  She would rather keep a pink sweater in her closet that no one will ever wear than have us exchange it for a red one we will love.   I have no idea why she has this issue.  It is probably her mother’s fault.

Now marry that history with my own weird issues of being a potential hoarder, my desire to be a minimalist, my perfectionist tendencies and my extreme guilt issues.  Gift receiving, it is the perfect storm of all of my neuroses (okay, most of my neuroses – there are others that I am not admitting to here.)

But this year is different.  My mother came to my house the week following Thanksgiving and together we bought my Christmas gifts.  These are all things I really, really “need”.  But on one level or another they invoked feelings of guilt or wastefulness or some other thing that was holding me back.

Without further ado – the best presents ever.


This heavy duty baby gate is keeping the climbing prodigies out of the kitchen.  It replaces the two cheap baby gates they have broken.  And the third cheap baby gate that I cut a hole in the bottom of to allow the cats to crawl through.  Guess what?, my kids are roughly the same size as my biggest cat and happily lay on the floor to shimmy though the hole.  So a new gate was crucial and this one fit the bill.


Do you know how much cheap blinds cost?  About $3.99.  We had two sets of blinds in our rental house that were completely ruined.  One set was broken compliments of my children, the other just self-destructed.  Why, oh why didn’t I just go buy these myself months ago?


I kept saying I wanted a “laundry system.”  My mother kept saying, “I don’t know what you mean.”  This is what I meant; three bins – lights, darks, “specials”.  And specials also gets a small bin in top for “everydays.”  “Specials” means hand-wash or something like that.  Usually it is an item I like so much that I want to take special care of it.  So I let it sit in the laundry basket for six months until I can find the time to clean it “correctly”.  “Everydays” are bibs, rags and wash-clothes.  A small plastic rubbermaid that we already had fit perfectly in the top of the “specials” bin and is a great place to deposit the disgusting “everydays”.

My system had to work in my relatively small laundry room while leaving room for the cat paraphernalia that accompanies our cat Jaws.  Jaws is on lock-down when she is in the house because of her problem bathroom habits.

I will not say I am enjoying doing laundry these days, but I will say it is much, much easier.

My mother also bought me a pair of boots.  I am wearing them right now.  They are made of sheep skin.  They make me feel guilty (also warm and toasty.)

So, it has already been one of my favorite Christmases since I became neurotic an adult.  And then my mother surprises me with this…

She is making a gift in my name to Ethiopia Reads who is building a library and school in the region where Little Dude was born.


She is making a gift in my name to Mudula Water (not the exact village Little Dude was born in, but in the same general area)

Wow, amazing how my mother’s generosity just took me from guilt to joy.

Thanks, Mom.




3 responses

21 12 2010
Gina Umble

Hannah and I both bought boots and Carolyn is shopping. We’ve done a good job justifying the purchases amongst ourselves, so if you need any help we’re a phone call away :). Miss you all, Gina

22 12 2010

A minimalist hoarder? Interesting 🙂

Love Ethiopia Reads! I just bought three books from her. Do you have any of them? I particularly like “Trouble” … very fitting for my little Joseph. Guilt-free purchases because a huge chunk of the proceeds go to the Library/School project. Anyway, I have three of her books, and you can check them out when you come visit me in January:)

16 05 2011

Well, I’m glad you linked back to this, because I missed it the first time. Gift giving can be VERY complicated and represent something that it in no way was intended to…but just like love, it’s convoluted and not perfect. :-p I loved this post.

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