When I was married, I’d kill myself shopping for the perfect Christmas gifts for my in-laws. I got real satisfaction out of seeing my mother-in-law regularly wear the comfortable clothes I got her (while my sister-in-law’s fancy angora sweaters sat untouched in a drawer). Once I surprised my father-in-law with a very nice box for his pen collection.
I didn’t scrimp on my parents either. For my father nice paints and brushes, and once a fancy wine bottle opener and reusable “cork,” which he still uses now. For my mother I once got her a “coffee of the month” gift package (every month for a year, she received a pound of coffee with some snacks); another time a very nice watch from Tourneau; and Waterford crystal figurines, which she collected.
I guess I did spend some bucks around Christmastime, but a lot of it was paid for with these bonus cards through my company. It was really quite convenient. And I can’t say I was 100% altruistic in my gift giving. I wanted to impress people, not necessarily by spending a lot of dough but by getting someone the perfect something that they didn’t even know they wanted.
While my in-laws and parents appreciated my gifts, my ex didn’t. Despite my track record, he always assumed I’d get the wrong thing. Once while I was looking for something for his mom, I called him to check on her size, and he said, “No cheap stuff for my mom.” When had I ever gotten her “cheap stuff”? When I gave my mother the watch, which I had picked out, he said, “We can return it if you don’t like it.” Wtf? She loved it and wore it every day for years till recently when she lost it, to her great sadness.
Now I send gifts to my parents and that’s it. Wine or books always please my father. My mother is a bit harder to shop for. Unlike my dad, she doesn’t have too many hobbies, aside from snuggling on the couch watching Korean soap operas. So what better than a Snuggie? Besides, our house is always freezing in the wintertime. I also got her some San Francisco “treats” – a box of Ghiradelli chocolates and coffee from the San Francisco Coffee Roasting Company – and a Macy’s gift card.
While the wine was easy to send since I ordered it online, sending my mom’s present was a pain in the neck. It’s my own fault for waiting so long. First I went to the post office, but there was a line out the door, and two people working. Two! At the P.O. near Grand Central in New York, they always had several people working, and another person going up and down the line, seeing if people needed supplies or could use the self-serve postal machine. While this post office near me now is much smaller, it’s the holidays. You need more than two people working on the Friday before Christmas at lunchtime.
After five minutes of the line not moving, I gave up and went to Office Depot. You can get shipping supplies and ship via UPS right there. Sounds easier than it was. The girl’s computer was incredibly slow. Each action took about five minutes. Plus she kept “updating” me – “It’s logging in now, it’s still logging in, it’s logging in” – yes, I got it the first five times you told me. The whole transaction took thirty minutes, when normally it should take five.
Then after all that, I decided not to do it. It was incredibly expensive to ship. For the Wednesday before Christmas, it was over $50! “And it’s no guarantee,” the girl said. Whaaaa? Then why put a date there at all? She said it’d be a guarantee if delivered on Sunday or Monday, which would cost over a $100. That’s just insane!
So I canceled my order and went to FedEx. I figured if I was going to pay that much, at least I’d want to know for sure that it was going to be delivered. For Wednesday GUARANTEED delivery FedEx was $37. Still a pretty price to pay, but not bad for right before Christmas and compared to UPS. Of course if I had been more organized, I could have sent it via postal service for much cheaper, but oh well.
All that trouble for one gift. I can’t imagine having a bunch to send. Next year I’m doing everything online.