100 ATRO #77: Not Shopping for Presents

If you didn’t already know, ATRO stands for Awesome Things Rip-Off because I totally ripped off the idea from this guy.

I used to pride myself on giving people the perfect gift – something they didn’t even know they wanted till I gave it to them. One Christmas for my mom, a coffee and sweets lover, I gave a coffee of the month membership. Each month a different kind of coffee, with accompanying cookies or candies, came to her doorstep. Once I gave my dad, who loves red wine, a high tech bottle opener and stopper, which he still uses and raves about till this day. For my ex-father-in-law, I gave a beautiful pen holder for his pen collection. His eyes lit up when he saw it.

“I need something like this!” he cried.

For my ex-mother-in-law, I gave clothes to her specifications, which she wore every day.

But even as I delighted in giving people wonderful presents, I grew to hate it. The stress, the crowds, the lack of appreciation from my ex who once said to me, “No junk for my mom,” as though I’d ever get her something junky. Giving his parents the perfect presents made absolutely no difference in his eyes, and while they did love the gifts, nothing I gave equaled what they actually wanted: a Korean daughter-in-law. But still I tried. Still I competed with my ex-BIL’s Korean wife, who gave expensive yet utterly impractical presents (like an angora sweater for my bedridden MIL) that sat in my in-laws’ dresser, untouched.

Giving gifts, a presumably self-less act, became entirely selfish. It became a way for me to earn points and approval.

Now I only get gifts for my parents and brother. (MB and I don’t exchange gifts. He doesn’t celebrate Christmas and I don’t care. I’d rather have sweetness, affection, and emotional support every day than a big fancy gift once a year.) Almost every year I get my dad wine, for my mother chocolates or a gift card, and for my brother, also a gift card. I buy everything online so I don’t have to stand in line, haha.

Also, lately I’ve taken to sending gifts at off times. My friend YP loves Wonder Woman and writing letters. In a Japanese bookstore, I spotted some Wonder Woman stationery and sent it to him, saying it was very belated birthday gift. I didn’t get anything for my brother’s birthday this year, but then I noticed that Moleskin was having a limited edition Star Wars series, and sent those as another belated gift.

That’s a hell of a lot more fun than shopping for Christmas.


  1. MB sounds lazy and unromantic.