Wednesday, December 23, 2009

No gifts, please. Especially not that one, Uncle Bonehead

Patty and I are forgoing Christmas gifts this year. We wrote a check to the Food Bank instead. I’d love to say somehow it’s our higher morals and self-denial for the greater good, but the motive is just as likely to be the polar opposite. If, closing in on 22 years of marriage, we have trouble knowing what to get each other, the choice of causes is troubling. Either we’ve quit paying each other as much attention as we should, or we’ve paid such good attention over the years that there’s nothing left to get, let alone a place to put it. An even less attractive possibility is a dwindling talent for self-restraint and deferred gratification such that few needs or wants remain vacant by the end of Advent.

Between my own bad habits and decadent coincidence – can I be held responsible if I pre-ordered a nifty aero helmet in August and it arrived somewhere between the lords-a-leaping and the maids-a-milking? – I’m going to give myself credit for higher morals purely out of need to save what dignity remains.

What dignity remains, that is, after I broke the gift embargo at a cookies-only Christmas celebration at my parents’ house Saturday. I received and I gave. I received a sore throat from who knows who, and I gave a boxed set of nightmares to my 4-year-old nephew.

My older sister was taking family portraits, and a 6-year-old nephew was too tired to cooperate. A smile was roundly unprofferred. Some weird-uncle clowning around was in order. My mother had interpreted her own cookies-only edict somewhat loosely and filled the house with the inventory of a small arts&crafts chain. Part of the make-a-reindeer-out-of-candy-canes station featured a stock of those self-adhesive googly eyes – exactly what I needed. I grabbed a couple eyes, peeled off the backing, stuck them to my closed eyelids and pointed my nose in the direction of the Stubborn One. Giggles ensued, the shutter was tripped, the younger nephew ran into the room to see what was so funny, and you could hear the scream as far as at least three of the Great Lakes.

Patty and I will probably continue our gift-free theme for future Christmases. Still not because of any high moral standing; rather, because psychiatrists are expensive, and I owe somebody a good one.


Jim Smith II said...

Jef - That was hilarious! I love being the "crazy uncle", there's almost no pressure and everyone (except the scared kid) laughs it off...

BTW - The Lovely & Talented Mrs. Smith and I don't exchange gifts either. Like you, after 19 years of marriage we're blessed enough that it would be mostly going through the motions. Better to spend the time and money on those who need it more. Plus it makes going to the mall and watching those husbands trying to figure out gifts all the more enjoyable...

La Professora said...

Howl-worthy! Was introduced to my new (by marriage) Ohio nieces and nephews on Christmas eve, and they're not too sure what to make of the weird Californiana who's now their aunt.

Speaking of gifts, SJSU laundry abatement is heading your way.

Merry Happy!

Anonymous said...

My wife and I did not exchange gifts this year. We opted for a New Year's Eve vacation, instead. Not so altruistic, but I'm looking forward to a few trails in the Smoky Mountains.