Welcome to my world!

My life's been crazy since my Daddy moved in with me immediately after my mother's death in October 2010. My one and only kiddo headed to college at Carolina at the end of August. So...I lived on my own, for the first time in my life, for a total of a blissful six weeks. Then, I started the parenting gig with my dad. He's a combination of a grouchy old man, a surly teenager and a temperamental toddler. Needless to say, I get very close to the brink of insanity sometimes. I get through life by finding the humor in difficult circumstances. And for some reason, I wind up in the weirdest situations. I couldn't make this stuff up. So I wind up having lots and lots crazy adventures which make great stories to share with my friends. Writing about my life is so therapeutic. My ramblings range from funny to sad to angry (full of cuss words) to sweet. While my focus is dealing with the trials and tribulations of being a parent to my Daddy, I have lots of random, totally unrelated posts. Whatever's on my mind. I love to make people laugh, and I'm happy to think my readers will get my strange sense of humor. And maybe, people who are in my situation will be encouraged. That's all I can hope for...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Carol's Guide to Giving

In honor of mothers everywhere, I thought I'd take this opportunity to enlighten those of us with Y chromosomes about what women really want. As far as gifts go, anyway.

My inspiration for this post is something that happened yesterday. Mr. Man called and I asked him if he'd sent something to his mom. He hadn't. I offered my personal shopping services. The photo printer I'd bought for his dad's birthday was a big hit. Also, I suggested he buy flowers to take to his mom after I picked him up at the airport. Big hit. You get the idea.

So last night, I asked him what I should take to Mama. He said not to worry about it. Get this... He made a donation to the Humane Society. I know he meant well, but I don't get the feeling his mother is into animals. She's all about flowers and gardening. He, however, is a loving Daddler to his dogs. A Doggler. Draw your own conclusions about the donation.

Before I launch into my tirade, let me make it perfectly clear that I'm a very charitable person. I used to give 10% of my income to charity back before private school tuition. Don't think I'm THAT generous though. I was baptist then and had to listen to endless sermons (spurred by church budget shortfalls) about Stewardship. Tithing. So I tried my best to make it a priority. I should also admit that I saw it as investment. Not in the milk of human kindness, but rather in future returns. See, there's this bible verse: Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38 Back then, I drank the baptist Kool-Aid and I really thought I'd get more back than I gave. I guess that kinda negates the whole thing.

These days, I don't support the baptists (except as instructed by The D when we go to his church). I have other causes I support. St. Jude Children's Hospital is a favorite. When friends are going on mission trips, I donate toward their expenses. I give memorials and honorariums. Donate some of my fees back to my nonprofit clients. And some odds and ends like public television (I really just wanted the tote bag to impress people), but forgot to ask for it. Enough already. I think I've proved my point.

Now. Here goes. My philosophy. I want stuff. Don't go donatin' money in my honor. When I die, feel free. I won't be around to open the packages. But I'm not dead yet.

I prefer my gifts to be wrapped in boxes, not thrown in a gift bag. I understand, however, extenuating circumstances. Like being in the throes of a move and not able to find the wrapping paper. It doesn't have to be fancy. I like getting gifts wrapped in the funny papers. I felt bad that I had to throw Papa J's photo printer into a bag. The biggest one I had. It was emblazened with a portrait of Santa. And when I gave Dude his belated birthday gift, It wasn't wrapped at all. But straight men don't care about that stuff. I'm getting off topic again. Back to the actual gifts.

They don't have to be on the actual day. I took my little sis clearance flowers the day after Valentine's. She gave me hell about it, but I still thought it was sweet of me. Especially since I usually don't give her anything for that particular holiday. Since I never get it together for Christmas and I will NOT go to the mall after Thanksgiving, if I think of something and I can get it on Amazon, it's on time. Otherwise, I'm still celebrating Christmas with my friends in March. As an aside, once I left my tree up until March (tax season was particularly bad that year), until my mother couldn't stand it anymore and came over while I was at work one day and put it in the attic for me.

I've blogged before about how hard it is for me to wait to give someone a perfect gift. So I give it the first chance I get. Birthday or not. I took Angela a couple of fun gifts a week or two before Christmas. A leopard print Santa hat with gold sequins. So very Angela. Plus, she needed it to wear during the holidays.

Back to my primer. I like to get real, tangible presents, but it doesn't bother me one bit if I just get a sweet card with a personal inscription. My favorite Mother's Day gift ever is a drawing Kiddo made for me. It had several pictures of the things we did together. Like bedtime reading. Throwing the whiffle ball. It makes me tear up just thinking about it. While going through Mother's things, I found a card my brother had drawn for her when he was a kid. It was an acrostic using the letters in the word Mother. I didn't just tear up. I boo-hoo'd. I still miss him. I also found a letter Mother had folded and put in her bible. From me. Christmas 1995. I'd had a really hard time that year. I didn't have the energy to shop. At all. Just for Kiddo. So I wrote her a letter telling her how much she meant to me. It was full of raw emotion. I'd forgotten all about it. It looked like she'd read it many times. Wow. I'm so glad I gave her that instead of one more nightgown or bottle of perfume.

It doesn't matter how much things cost. It really is the thought that counts. Something that really is personal and shows that it was chosen with me in mind. I used to get irritated when my former husband would give me the same thing every birthday or holiday. A box of Godiva chocolates (I never ate them, but Kiddo did), and a gift set from Bath & Body Works. I told him not to buy Godiva (so overpriced), but he still did it. He always went shopping at the last minute. So instead of having family time on Christmas eve, he was at the mall, with half the other men in Memphis.

I also love to receive things that are handmade. Because that represents the precious gift of time. These are the things I will remember and keep forever. Or just asking me to do something together. Dinner. A movie. A trip to the zoo. Again, the time thing.

I have the memory of Dory, the blue tang with short-term memory loss in Finding Nemo. But I have an uncanny ability to remember who gave me things. Which is why I'm going to spend some time purging my life of gifts from people I'd rather not remember often. Things that remind me of painful emotions. Anything at all from the evil bitch-from-hell former sister. Not that she ever gave me anything meaningful. She's a major skinflint. I need to pack up all the family pictures of her and ship them. I'm surprised she hasn't demanded them by now.

Now, what NOT to give. Gift cards. I lose them. Anything with an electrical cord. Unless it's a new hybrid car. Overpriced anything. Devotional books. How many God's Promises books does one person need? And I can't regift because A) they're always inscribed with a personal message, and B) I'd probably screw up and give it to the one who gave it to me. My well-meaning friends are probably trying to nudge me about my lapsed religious status.

So, back to FF and his lame gift. Sorry Dude, but I call it like I see it. I think I'll stop by for a visit to Future Fantasy Mother-in-Law tomorrow and take her a nice pot of half-priced hydrangeas. Something she can plant in her yard and enjoy every year. And I'll tell her the gift is from her sweet son. Hey, maybe I'll even get one of those "From the two of us" cards. No, it's way too soon for that kinda commitment. It'll just be from him.

One last thing. I have a birthday with a zero coming up at the end of July. Mark your calendars. DO NOT plan a surprise party. Angela and my mother tried to pull that off when I turned 40, but I headed them off at the pass and got the heck outta dodge. Spent it at the beach. Mother loved to give surprise parties. Like my 16th. It made me blush when they'd say "Sweet 16 and neve been kissed." Because it was true.

The D's 70th birthday party. Only problem was that he found out. Don't remember, but I probably slipped. I'm horrible about that. The really funny thing, though, was the exaggerated look of surprise on his face when he walked in and we all shouted "Surprise!". He really chewed the scenery.

He'll be 80 in July, so I think I'll plan a little get-together for him, but I could never pull off a surprise party. Besides, he has the pacemaker and he's kinda jumpy. It would be just my luck that he'd have a myocardial infarction (so much more fun to say than heart attack).

I hope this helps. I AM a woman and a mother, after all. And I'm happy to have Kiddo here for this year's holiday. Especially since I know I'll be missing my mother desperately. We'll go to lunch with The Daddler and stop by Mother's grave with flowers. Maybe carnations. She always loved those.

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