Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dread Zone

Dum-da-dum-dum. I can feel it creeping up. It's coming for me, the way it does every year. We are now entering a treacherous, dreadful, depressing stretch of year in the life of yours truly. We are entering the horrible, terrible, no-good-very-bad gift zone, which runs from Valentine's Day through my April birthday.

Caveat: the last time I wrote about some of my not-most-favorite gifts, some of you were not amused and felt that I was ungrateful. If you have never gotten a gift that you didn't really like, then how awesome for you. On the next gift-giving occasion, you might want to add "sense of humor" to your wish list. Not only does my husband know that this post was coming, he has readily admitted it is warranted. And now we continue with our regularly scheduled programming.

When we were dating, Clint gave the most thoughtful gifts. Things you saw, forgot that you wanted, and then made your little heart pitter patter with delight to open on those wondrous special occasions. Then we got married and yeah...not so much.

It started as a kind of downhill slide. The first Valentine's Day after we got married, Clint gave me card with a fart joke. Our first romantic holiday as a married couple, and my husband decided flatulence was the perfect theme to match the occasion. Next came some rather lackluster gifts, mad dash gifts bought at the last minute, and finally we arrived at where we are now: embarrassingly terrible gifts. I have thwarted much of this painfulness by reducing our anniversary to a cards-only event, and we are getting perilously close to doing the same with Valentine's Day. And birthdays.

Last year, I got this on the day we celebrate all things romantic and love-related:

The aforementioned Myers Park Mustangs are a high school team in our neighborhood. Not my alma mater, and I am not particularly enamored with the school. Or mustangs. The shirt came from the Walgreens on the corner, about 60 seconds from my house. I know because we saw it there the week before Valentine's Day, on sale for $7.99. Clint asked if I wanted it, and I believe my exact words were, "I would not even pay eight dollars for that." No problem, because my precious Valentine pulled right in on his way home from work on February 14 and got it for me. (Did I mention that it was a size LARGE and would have comfortably housed a lumberjack? Let's just say that didn't exactly add to its appeal).
I called one of my closest girlfriends the next morning to tell her about the gift. She consoled me by sharing that her dad once gave her mother a back brace for her birthday. He thought that since her back had been giving her trouble, she would adore her very own brace. She did not find the gesture any more romantic than I found my long sleeved t-shirt.
Once I recover from the Valentine's shenanigans, April is here before you know it and it's birthday time. I am a girl who believes in doing it up right for birthdays, after all, it is your own personal holiday--the one day a year that really is all about you. I go all out in September for Clint's birthday--because I love doing it. And while I don't expect the same amount of fanfare, it is distressing to know that I am highly likely to get a bran muffin with a lit match stuck on top in lieu of a cake.
I was a bit disappointed four years ago when I got a new A/C unit for my birthday. I mean, it is the gift that keeps on giving, but not really what I had my heart set on (I tried to console myself with the thought that it was because I'm so dang hot, but there's only so much you can do with that). Then there was the year I got a sports bra and some bedroom shoes. Again, very practical. But I am one of the most impractical people on the planet, so this did not especially suit.
My friend Kim said her husband gave her a gift certificate last year for Rack Room Shoes. It's on his way home, so she knew it was a gift of pure convenience, purchased the day of the gift swap. It was especially remarkable because Kim hasn't shopped at Rack Room in about five years. Bless their little gift-giving souls.
It is the thought that counts; the problem here is that there isn't much thought being batted around. Worse than the gifts are the looks I get when people ask what I got--it's a mixture of pity, disbelief, astonishment, and amusement. Add horror and those are the exact emotions I go through when opening these ditties. It is slightly better than regifting something we already own that was just lying around the house, but only marginally.
And so, with the 14th of February rapidly approaching, I am determined to keep calm, hope for the best and expect the worst. And I'm also left to wonder about the St. Valentine's Day massacre in 1929--do you think there could have been a long sleeved t-shirt involved?

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