I feel like such a consumer this time of year. Well, who doesn't, it's a cliche I know. I can't stand how broke it makes me feel as the credit card receipts pile up high and I still feel like I haven't satisfied the never ending "gimme" hunger from my son and the feeling that the gifts have to be piled to the ceiling in order to feel satisfied. I admit that I really love seeing a big pile of presents with my name on them. And the bad parent feelings I have for not buying him enough, plague me constantly.
I remember one winter I visited my father for Christmas, a plane ride away, and spent the week with him, his girlfriend and his 2 small sons.There was an enormous pile of tempting presents under the tree. I'm Jewish and a tree was almost more thrilling than the presents themselves. When the boys woke everybody up early Christmas morning, the anticipation was huge. We all gathered around to open the presents. With each gift I opened I felt the pit in my stomach growing larger.
First I got a purple hat, scarf and glove set. Then I got a fat book about how things work (who cares how things work, I wanted toys and dolls). Then I got a yellow mug and plate with a smiley face on them. The boys were still opening their gifts and, miserably, I was done. Trucks, games, cars, toys and wrapping paper were everywhere. Then, after probably five minutes of gift opening frenzy (it seemed to me like hours), there was one present left and it was BIG. I mean really BIG. I looked at the tag and was overjoyed to see my name on it. As soon as I started to rip into the paper, feeling like MY present was finally here, and boy was it worth waiting for, the biggest one of the whole pile, I was quickly stopped and it was taken from me by my father, with a laugh, that it wasn't for me. In fact it wasn't my name on the tag at all, it was my brother Jeff's (Jill and Jeff can look a lot alike in an adult's script handwriting). I felt embarrassed for opening his gift, but he was very small and didn't notice. It turned out to be a Big Wheel, that was definitely too small for me and perfect for him. But in the end, I never got my "big" gift. I pretended to be really happy with my hat, mug and book, but as you can see, I can remember every detail of that night over 30 years ago. It sticks with you, that kind of thing, yes it does.