Rob asks me, “So what do you want for your birthday?”
He got the same deer in the headlights look that I got from Dee when I asked her what she was going to tell Santa she wanted for Christmas when she saw him at the Children’s Xmas party Rob’s company hosts every year.
The trouble is we don’t really need things. Seriously. I have written about this before but I have everything I need or even want. When backed into a corner, you’ll get the same response from me, “I really can’t think of a thing I need.”
I frame gift giving in terms of needs. I do this mostly because I loathe knickknacks and acquiring things simply because they are shiny and caught my eye. My window shopping habits of my early working girl days cling to me still. I would wander the mall, looking, trying on, thinking and leave empty-handed to ponder a bit more. If something compelled me to return for it in a week, I bought it and if not, I forgot about it. I am that way about purchases now as well. Few things need to be snapped up in the moment. Thought and sense is the best approach to buying.
The proximity of my birthday to Christmas (two weeks to the day) had always made it more difficult for me. When I was young, I was often a victim of the combo gift, which violates all sorts of love and friendship rules frankly and I don’t care how poor you are, it’s a cheap and thoughtless way to treat someone. Although that doesn’t happen anymore, I am often the victim of gifts that people think I should have or want.
My late husband, Will, was a great one for not consulting me because he wanted to surprise me and most of the things he gave me were items I would have never gotten myself. He would tell you that this was a good thing. Who wants a present that they could have gotten themselves? But yet, he hated that type of thing himself, which is why I took his birthday and Christmas as an opportunity to replenish his worn out ball cap, flannel shirts and make sure he had the most recent Pittsburgh Steelers apparel to don when he trekked off on Sundays to watch the games.
Rob always asks, a product no doubt of having been a husband a whole lot longer than Will was. He shares a disinclination towards the idea that surprise is the best element of a good gift, thankfully, but his distaste of shopping means that I usually end up buying the gifts he and Dee give me, which sucks a bit of the celebration out of the whole thing for me.
This year though is probably the worst in terms of wracking my brain for gift ideas for myself or anyone else for that matter. Normally I have Christmas shopping done by the time the American version of Thanksgiving rolls around but not this year. I surveyed the pathetic assortment of gifts yesterday and realized I have precisely nothing for the sons-in-law and only slightly more for Rob. Dee makes out the best, but not by much with her older sisters running a close second. And there is zero for me.
Here’s the thing. My needs are simple and my wants are virtually non-existent. I don’t watch television, so I have nothing to prompt me to want nor do I read magazines, which act as a catalyst for mindless avarice in much the same fashion. I don’t have live friends, at least that I see often, so no prompting there. Rob rarely buys anything that doesn’t become a part of the house, so he is useless as a source of wish listing (and he is worse than I am about coming up with gift lists and nearly as bad as my father in assigning gifts to people so he never has to deal with unwanted items).
I prefer that people not buy me clothing. They always underestimate my size. I don’t look big but I am and so I often get mediums instead of larges and extra-larges. I am a not quite 48-year-old woman, skin-tight is not my defacto anymore. Books are another thing that I prefer to purchase myself. I used to buy and hoard books but there are few that are worth buying and ever fewer worth keeping anymore. I lean towards e-books now and would rather just use the library anyway. Music long ago became a song by song purchase. A whole cd is a waste of money. DVD’s? I check most out from the library. Compilations of shows are okay but usually disappointing and then you are stuck with them.
I have nearly every cooking/baking necessity one could use – expect one of those plastic sheets for rolling out dough. Mom had one and it was awesome, but I have never found one like it. I also have a crappy pizza cutter and as I have mentioned before I still mourn the Pampered Chef one that I foolishly allowed myself to be talked into purging when I moved up to Canada.
People who are hermits, like Rob and I, can actually have too many tea mugs.
I could use a Buddha and an ohm symbol for the yoga room door would be frivolous and yet awesome.
Rob decided to get me a smart phone for my birthday but then got one for himself too which took the “birthday” out of it a bit and I use Dee’s birthday gift of a new digital camera more than she does, which robs me of another thing for which to ask.
The Yoga Room in town is no more, so I can’t ask for my membership to be paid for this month.*
Rob is planning a dinner out for the birthday weekend and he acquiesced to my request to put the tree up on my birthday like I did when I was little. Tree trimming, pizza, cake and Christmas music. Such fun and good memories, which honestly my childhood Christmas’s possess but a few. Whatever I get or don’t get will be fine. I went online and ordered a few things from Old Navy last weekend. Wardrobe staples that Rob and Dee can pick through and designate for birthday or Christmas. I supposed I wouldn’t be disappointed if someone was to give me the first season of Game of Thrones because I enjoyed the little clips I have seen here and there, and you can’t go wrong with Sean Beane – despite the fact that his characters always die.
*I totally haven’t gotten over losing my yoga class outlet. I was talking with another woman who practiced there too and we commiserated the bankruptcy of yoga outlets now that it is gone. The city just doesn’t offer the same convenience or quality of classes and driving over to the next town is just out of the question when time is factored in. Besides, I don’t like hot yoga and the only other studio is geared towards older people during the day.