I’m hesitant to write about holiday presents, because I know there are people who can’t afford them and not everyone celebrates the same way, so I therefore feel somewhat uncomfortable complaining about them. But I also think presents are just the way my thoughts want to present themselves, and are a hopefully easy path to the real topic.
(Yes, for those of you who look for deeper meaning in my otherwise not deep posts, have fun with this one!)
My mother tells me I’m hard to shop for. How a Doctor Who, technology, and Broadway addict who loves to read can be hard to shop for, I still don’t know. But apparently I am. And so Chanukah was a disappointment. When my mother asked what I wanted, I told her a network hard drive. I figured it wouldn’t be a surprise, but it would make me happy. Needless to say, I didn’t get one. I was told that it was too complicated (really?), and here’s a gift card instead. For nowhere near the price of the hard drive. Disappointment, one. Then I got a coupon for a free slice of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. I’d stated, when asked if I wanted gift cards to the Cheesecake Factory, that I was trying to be healthy, so no thank you. So she got gift cards for my brother, and gave me the cheesecake offer that came free with any $25 gift card purchase. Disappointment, two. Finally I was handed a gift that looked like a gift, complete with wrapping paper and a bow. And out of the box came a jigsaw puzzle. Okay, not horrible, I like jigsaw puzzles. Pictured on it? Wine bottles, because I like to drink wine. She also informed me that she’d decided not to get me the Broadway puzzle, because wine is classier. And maybe I’d frame the puzzle once it was finished. Not a chance. Disappointment, three.
I know that Chanukah isn’t considered to be an important holiday in Judaism, and I’m okay with that. But my brother and his fiance received gifts that they immediately loved and wanted to use. I’m not sure my brother’s fiance’s puzzle book made it out of the house unused, in fact. My puzzle is sitting in the corner of my closet, where it will probably live until I move. No, the real bit of disappointment was the lack of effort. If all I’d gotten was a single Doctor Who dvd, even one I already owned, I’d have been thrilled. It would have meant that the people who are supposed to know me had paid attention to my interests, and not treated me like their randomly assigned Secret Santa recipient.
But the next day, something truly surprising happened. I’ve talked about my frustrations with my job before, so all I expected before leaving for Christmas weekend was a “Happy holidays/Merry Christmas.” What I got was an envelope. I didn’t expect any sort of bonus; I’m part-time, have only been with the company for two months, and already attended the company’s holiday party. The actual contents of the envelope astonished me. My supervisor had gotten me a gift certificate to Broadway.com. Somehow this person whom I barely speak to figured out exactly what would make me happy. I vaguely recall mentioning plans to go to New York one weekend and see a show, but for him to pick up on that and actually use the information? I was astonished.
Sometimes people can surprise you. The ones that should paid attention, don’t. And the ones that you think have no reason to care, do. The holiday season is hard, and, for me at least, a time that simply reinforces how little my family approves of my interests. But it’s also a time when people can perform a simple act and have it mean so much.