January 14, 2019

practically cursed

I think it started when Coach was a full time student and we were newlyweds.  I was footing the bill for his physical therapy graduate school tuition on the salary of a nanny.

Gifts were major to us.  In a nutshell, we were:  budget-conscious, scraping-by, penny-pinchers.  We drooled over gift cards and new clothes.  Luxuries.  I appreciated hand-me-down maternity clothes when I was expecting Laddie and Coach had another year of school to complete.  His parents regularly gave us boxes of frozen, boneless, skinless, Tyson chicken breasts.  His mom was a big supporter of the Market Day program at their church or something.  Chicken?  Perfect.  We could eat . . . something besides pasta and bread I bought at the Hostess outlet.

While being budget-conscious became a way-of-life that neither of us can shake (well, if I am being honest, I have more success at spending a bit on non-necessities than Coach does), we aren't in the same boat as we were back in the 1996-1999 era.  Happily.

Coach's family doesn't gift.  In the 22 years since we have been married, his parents bought me a pair of ice-skates and a pair of workout pants.  In 1995- the first Christmas we were engaged.  They send a check for birthdays and Christmas now.  This is very much appreciated - particularly when you consider the progress they have made.

Shortly after we were married in 1996, they bought a house in Florida.  Our 'gift' every year was a flight to visit them.  Stipulations.  We had to stay with them.  Under their roof.  For an acceptable amount of time, or pay for our own flights.  During our visit most television was not allowed because it was considered immoral.  The weather where they live in Florida is typically dicey at best.  These were some painful uses of Coach's coveted vacation days.

Eventually I said ENOUGH.  There were other parts of the country to see and enjoy.  Real vacations beckoned.  If we didn't like our strings-attached gift, then we didn't get anything.  Nada.  Nothing.  Zilch.  Zero.  No Christmas gift.  Not even a pair of PJs for the kiddos.    Years later, they have opted to give us a check with the word 'fun' scribbled in the memo.  I guess they finally realized that staying with them did not translate to:  FUN.
Cute top that my mom gave me for
Christmas.  Not really excited about it.
 My girls deemed it an old lady shirt and
 want it to go back to the store. 
Would you keep it?

I digress.  I am the first to admit that I am hard to shop for.  I am particular about my clothes.  My much shorter sister once bought me an outfit in a size large.  I was in my 20's- about 5' 9.5" and 125 lbs.  Large?  My height confused her. 

There have been a few Christmases that have caused me to be underwhelmed by the gift that my folks got me.  I couldn't put my finger on it.  This Christmas I think I figured out why my gifts are never the show-stopping variety.

My mom buys me clothes for Christmas from the store where I always shop.  I can buy these clothes for myself, because it is my go-to.  I suspect that my overly practical years of yesteryear have carried over into the present day.  When Coach was in school, and the years directly after he was in school when we were having babies, I was so overly practical that I hoped for essential gifts.  Necessities.

Meanwhile, several of my siblings earn big incomes.  Mini once admitted to my nephew that she didn't think she would ever go on a Disney cruise.  His family averages a Disney pilgrimage every other year.  He looked at Mini dumbfounded, 'Why?'  Mini was speechless.  Ahem.  We aren't all millionaires.
A sweet memento to hang in his basement.

This year my youngest brother, Mike, opened a large oblong frame from my parents.  In it was a portion of a caddy towel with the name of the golf course where my brothers (and Coach) used to caddy.  It was a cool gift.  Thoughtful.  Unusual.  Something he would never buy himself.

That's when it struck me.  I rarely receive gifts that I wouldn't or couldn't buy myself.  Hoping you all have a New Year's resolution to leave comments.  So?  Do you think I am cursed for being practical?


Gigi said...

I don't know if you are cursed - nor do I know if that top suits you. But I do know that I generally shun floral prints; so if it were me, it would go back. To be honest at this point in my life, I'd rather have practical gifts; or something that I specifically requested.

Beth (A Moms Life) said...

I am not a floral person (not judging those that are). I'm not a print person in general - stripes and very small dots are as wild as I get when it comes to pattern so if it were me, I would send that gift back. I hate shopping for other people (especially when you don't really know what they want or need or what would truly bring them joy). I typically don't get that many gifts because my husband and I decided years ago not to exchange them. My family give us cash at Christmas and birthdays and I'm fine with that. My husband's parents are deceased but his brother and sister always give us Christmas gifts. So those two gifts are typically the only two surprises I get each year. And sometimes I wish for a little more or even a surprise but usually I am okay with things the way they are because then no one is wasting time or money on something I don't want or need or like.

Suzanne said...

That shirt isn't my particular style, but it does seem like bold florals are "in" these days.

I think some people are just... hard to shop for. Not saying you ARE, but I know I am. I am really picky about clothes, and yet that is my favorite type of gift. So... it adds up to being disappointed a lot. It sounds like you aren't really a list-making family, but what if you gave some big hints? Of the "I would really love this XYZ for Christmas this year!" type variety? That has proven helpful to me. Not a perfect system, though!

Suzanne said...

By the way (and this may take me fifteen minutes to post!) your captcha system is a little aggressive. I am not sure if it's something you have control over, or if it's a blogger thing, but it took me a good five minutes to approve enough images that the system could determine I am not a spammer.

Suzanne said...

(I guess it was THREE minutes, and only felt like five! And I am getting faster at spotting fire hydrants, ha!)

Ernie said...

I am probably not cursed, but it seems like I expected practical gifts back when Coach was a student and now that he is not a student I have blown my chance at getting non-practical gifts. I guess I am just wired that way. A nice surprise would be fun now and then though. I guess when I think about it, I don't have any floral prints in my wardrobe - except for a bathing suit but that is navy and white so it doesn't seem so flowery!

Ernie said...

I do agree with this. I am at the age that I know what I like, and there is not much chance that someone else is going to get it right, which is why I buy stuff and wrap it up for myself from Coach. A little surprise now and then would be fun though. I think I am pickier than I like to admit.

Ernie said...

I think you hit the nail on the head here - I am definitely hard to shop for. I do like to get clothes, but I also like to shop for myself. Not a good combo. Last Christmas my Mom offered to get me new dishes for our new kitchen which we desperately needed (some plates can only be glued together so many times), and that made a lot of sense. I probably need to get better about hint dropping. My mom likes to start her shopping RIGHT after Christmas though, so I am not always aware when she has started her shopping again.

Ernie said...

Oh my gosh! I had NO IDEA! I am not very computer/blog page literate, so I will have to see what I can figure out. Definitely not something I set up. I didn't even know that my blog did that. Thanks for the heads up!! How totally annoying! If anyone else out there uses blogger and knows how to adjust this please let me know!

Charlie said...

I like the top! Is it a tunic style top that you could wear with skinny jeans and boots? Anyway I just wanted to comment to say I have fairly recently found your blog and I love it! I’m working way my way backwards through your archives

Ernie said...

Charlie, Welcome! Thanks for saying hi and for making my day! The top is not really long enough to be considered a tunic. At least not on me. I am tall.