They say “It’s the thought that counts”. I’m hoping this is false. Otherwise my sister hates me.
Several Christmases ago we gathered for holiday supper. My big sister, the pre-prison Martha Stewart of the family, approached with good tidings. Blank expression covering her face, I decided cheer can look strange on different people.
“Merry Christmas!,” I reached an arm to hug her, but she thrusted a brown cardboard box into my holly jolly hands.
“What’s this?,” I feigned glee, hoping this boring old package contains pure magic to make up for itself. It was an unassuming box, no wrapping, no tag, no curly cued ribbon hair. It was something one might expect when buying a refurbished cell phone from a street vendor or smuggled drugs from a border gang.
“A gift, idiot,” her tone sounded like an angel choir singing “Bleh. Whate’er.”
Our mother raised me right so I peeked into the already open parcel acting properly Southern: ever gracious and thrilled.
“No,” I stated, my voice suddenly louder and mean. How quickly I lost all my gracious.
“What? It’s a present. Take it,” I realized in that moment that she was a monster. A mirth-sucking, merry-maiming monster.
“Uh, I don’t think so. No. Nope. No. Never. Um. Hell-to-the-Naw. And Negative. No,” I was suddenly overcome with infant rage and tossed the gift back to its giver like smooshed peas, rejected and flying.
It was a cardboard box containing bars of soap. My mind- so hoping for that pony from 1989 or that Barbie from 1994 or, at the very least, a gift card- could not accept such a lazy imposter of a present. Throw a dog a bone! Give a bitch a bow!For the love of Target, give me something, anything to show that you care about my general existence come Christmas time. The thought that counted was that I’ve got some odor issues and hateful siblings I never knew about.
Sure, she’d just had a baby, just two minutes ago!
Sure, she looked like she’d become Subject X in a government study on Sleepless Warriors.
Sure, she appeared to have failed that test in some kind of awful way.
Sure, I did forget deodorant that holiday week and could knock out passerby just by waving.
Thus began my journey, the long road to forgiveness, the arduous task of not acting out and purposely gift-shaming my sister. I willed myself to drink water even when a sip of that sugary revenge nectar seemed so sweet. This is love. I became a mother not too many winters later and realized how fully impressive I was by simply remembering to wash anything and occasionally luck out with matching socks. Also, it didn’t hurt that I lavished in those years the gift of supple, rose-kissed fingers. It truly was fancy soap. The Ritz Carlton of suds or at the very least a Hampton Inn with a piping hot swirly pool and free Pop Tarts for breakfast. Whatever the soap’s socioeconomic situation, my hands were shockingly clean.
So I’ve kept them that way, clean that is, and refrained from, I don’t know, gifting the old girl a half-used roll of duct tape that would irrefutably link her to a string of crimes. I didn’t dare buy her that beard trimmer. I made lists, but had the courtesy of tossing them.
- Gaint Man Pants with note: “Kept receipt if these are too small, lovey!”
- A coupon redeemabled for one glorious weekend babysitting my kid. Merry Christmas, Mama.
- Empty box of chocolates. That one’s not even passive aggressive. I just have self-control problems.
- 20-foor inflatable Whack-A-Penguin and a hefty box of Pixie Stix. I’ll intantly become Super Aunt while ruining sister’s peace and lawnage.
A saint is what I am, see? After a moral monologue I even snuck to the gutter sans receipt to return the bag of street mice I’d so painstakingly decorated with festive neck bells. I opted instead for a true gift from the heart. It is a gift that reeks of that sweet, sweet, soapy spirit of sisterhood. Something that says “I love you…despite yourself”. Something she’s wanted for months that will make her heart happy, her soul delighted. Something that feels like grudges shedding themselves down to a bright and brilliant gem known as forgiveness.
This holiday season I suggest you do the same.
What’s that about forgetting?
What’s the strangest gift you’ve given or received?