Saturday, September 3, 2011
You Shouldn't Have...Seriously.
I loved to open presents as a child, but somewhere along the way I must have gotten a really, really, terrible gift. Now, opening presents fills me with anxiety. I guess I just don’t have good control of my face. And, insincere words coming from my mouth sound…well, insincere. And, if you are wondering if I am a bad poker player, YES. What I think of as my “nonchalant” face appears to others as if I’ve just discovered I have a second belly button. I cannot disguise whatever emotion I am feeling.
Just last Christmas, I was with my in-laws, and I opened a wrapped gift to discover a box of brownie mix. Not aware that the next box contained one of those new pans which make every brownie a corner (which I truly love!) I had to show utter delight with my brownie mix. As I was trying to look enthusiastic, I was wondering if they had done their Christmas shopping in their own kitchen. Should I be happy it wasn’t a can of pinto beans?
My daughter and I agree that my stepson is the master of the gift face. He would have been grinning ear-to-ear at a can of beans as if owning one was his wildest dream. Socks, underwear, a can of shaving cream, a cheese grater—he appears to treasure them all. I have to admit I’ve been tempted to play around a bit, and wrap something so lame even he couldn’t get excited over, but I honestly couldn’t figure out what that would be.
Thinking back a few decades, I may know when my fear started, or at least who started it. I won’t name them, but I will say they were a relative by marriage only. All eyes were on me one Christmas when I opened her gift to find a plastic wall clock. Not just any plastic wall clock, this one included a plastic replica of a fireplace, with a roller painted with flames, so as the battery-operated roller spun, it looked exactly like a genuine roaring fire. See, I can’t even describe it without getting sarcastic. Now, if you are thinking what an ungrateful person I am, you should know that she never used or wore any of the dozens of gifts I gave her over the years. Christmas was just a yearly reminder of how different we were.
One year she really got me with the gift that keeps on giving. It was a pie made of fabric and filled with potpourri. When I pulled it out of the plastic bag, I almost fell off my chair from the strawberry fumes. Maybe she thought the tears streaming down my cheeks were in appreciation of the gift, but I doubt it. She then said to me with a twinkle in her eye, “If the fragrance fades, you can put it in the oven for five minutes and the smell will come back.” Touché.
The pie that wouldn’t die wound up in a box with the fireplace clock, the oil lamp in the shape of Texas, the Dollywood snow globe, and the Dale Earnhardt fanny pack.
So, if you see me opening gifts in a dark corner, or sniffing the box before opening it, you will know why. And, I will continue to get anxious. Because I never know when a fish on a plaque that sings Take Me to the River will show up. Gulp.