Wednesday, December 13, 2006


My dad called me at work yesterday. He does that from time to time. He called the Friday before last and I told him my Owen-related troubles. Poor Dad. He didn't know what to tell me, though he presaged some of the blog advice and said, "Just make other plans. You do that a couple of times and he'll get the message." Dad has some good ideas! I don't mind so much telling him this stuff because he's not judgemental and nothing he says makes me feel worse, which could well happen in a conversation with mom.

Dad called again last week to check in and I was doing better but was still not feeling a hundred percent good about things. Yesterday, I didn't go into details but I said everything was fine. From the tone of my voice, Dad could tell it was true. I didn't tell him how I'd resolved things with Owen, but I did tell him about some of things we did together this weekend: our trip to Costco, dinner with his friends and bowling.

Then Dad asked me what I wanted for Hannukah. I said, "I don't know."


"No, I have plenty of that." We laughed. "I want a present. I can think about it and give you some ideas."

"Oh, I'll figure something out."

I said, "You know, I told Owen that he should get me a present, but I didn't have any suggestions. And I told him if I didn't like it, I'd be grumpy. No pressure!"

Dad said, "I hate that! When people are grumpy about their presents...your mother was like that...and her mother."

"Really? Mom was like that too?"

Dad said, "More your grandmother. Terrible."

"Wow. I thought it was just me. I know it's bad but I can't help it. I never say anything, but I can't hide it. I don't know what to do about it. Like, last year, Mom gave me this sushi making kit and the last thing I want to do, ever, is make sushi. I didn't know what to say, so I just said nothing. And then she called me out, 'You didn't like it, did you?' She knew!"

Dad laughed.

"I told Owen that story and he said, 'It's fun to make sushi.' I said, 'Really? Maybe we can do that together.'"

"So, that's good, maybe you'll get some use out of it."

"Yeah, only a year later! But, no, it's good. Owen's so enthusiastic--maybe it will be fun."

Dad got off the phone without and I still hadn't come up with any present suggestions. Oh well. I will be VERY PLEASED no matter what he gets me.

Now that I think about it, I don't do that grumpy-if-I-don't-like-the-present thing anymore, except with my mom. She has kept me in that bad habit by sulking when I don't get her EXACTLY what she wants. We don't have any problem telling each other what to get but sometimes I want to surprise her--I'll see something and I'll think it's perfect for her, so I get it. She is often not appreciative of these gifts. Darn it. I wish I hadn't warned Owen about my potential grumpiness. I know I don't do it with friends--a while ago, a friend got me something that was not really my style, but I was very touched by her thoughtfulness and I genuinely appreciated the gift--and I even grew to like it. Not to mention the Barbie-covered air freshener the Little Sister gave me that sat on my toilet for ages, which I hated, but was so touched by that I had to display. So, I'm good now! Could someone tell Owen, please?

Speaking of presents, I've already gotten Owen three. I could have bought him several more things and spent hundreds of dollars, but I opted a few relatively inexpensive items. I don't want him to feel pressured to spend a lot of money on me or to shower me with gifts. Sometimes, when I see something I know a the person will like, I just buy it. I don't always wait for a holiday or birthday to give the gift. I hope this makes up for my inability to remember anyone's birthday (except my parents').

A few times as a teenager I got presents from Dad that were awful. It was especially galling because Dad had always been good at picking things I liked. After he married Susan, I could see her fingerprints all over my gifts. One year "they" got me the most ridiculous, ugly reversible multi-colored cotton jacket--which also converted to a bag. Mom thought it was "cool" but she allowed that anyone who knew me, including Dad, would figure out it wasn't to my taste. One year, my gifts included seven pairs of underwear. That's right, Susan mailed underwear to me from California. I was sort of insulted (even though she got me the "right kind" of underwear). I was grumpy about this for ages, but mostly because I wanted the gifts from my father to be chosen by my father, not by my stepmother. She meant well but had a seriously mistaken impression of what I would like. These days, I don't worry about it too much. I'm just glad when Dad doesn't forget my birthday or remembers my age (he's usually off by a year). Whatever he gets me will be fine, as long as he picks it out.

And Owen? I trust that he will get me something, sometime in the general holiday period. Technically, it will be a Hannukah present, but unless he gives me something on Friday (first night of Hannukah!) I won't get it until after the fact. I'm not picky about when I get my present(s) just that I get them at all. This year, I only hope Owen likes what I got him. I actually gave him his first gift on Friday and he was delighted. I'm off to a good start.

Grateful for: appreciating the thought.

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