As Christmas and Hanukkah approach, it’s time to think about gifts. I enjoy buying presents for my granddaughter but finding appropriate presents for the adults in our family is not so easy. Just for fun, I searched the web to see what merchants are suggesting as gifts for adults this year. The Grommet features an Automatic Floss Dispenser, a Golf Club Cleaner, and a Microwave Bacon Cooker. And if those choices aren’t ridiculous enough, J. Peterman promotes a Four-tier Folding Cake Stand and a Bull Lead with a Copper Nose Ring (for the bullfighter in your life?). And just for the guys in your life, Mancrates proposes a Salami Bouquet or an Exotic Meats Jerkygram. Jerky indeed.
There have been some unfortunate gifts in Christmases past. One year my mother-in-law bought me some jumbo-size underpants, then apologized profusely when she saw the look on my face. A year or so later, my parents bought Bill an electric shaver, even though he had had a full beard for years.
Family gatherings over the holidays can be difficult. A psychiatrist friend once said to me regarding his patient caseload: “Christmastime is my High Season.” For some families, it is the one time of the year everyone gets together and the rich stew of irritation, competition, resentment and chronic misunderstanding can bubble over. Christmases in my family when I was a kid were like something out of an Irish short story. My mother and her mother had a tense relationship. My father would get tipsy early in the evening when my mother was not keeping an eye on the bourbon bottle. There were lots of presents and we kids tore into them at the same time, so frantically that the whole process was over in minutes and then we were disappointed that it went so fast. Meanwhile, the mother of my great-aunt-by-marriage, the oldest person I had ever seen, dozed in the corner. It was a Dylan Thomas scene without the poetry.
What were your holiday celebrations like? I’d love to hear from you.