Most Useful Gift

Unlike the kids who always knew what they were getting on Christmas morning from their relatives, I didn’t run around screaming ‘It just has to be that dollhouse!’ Maybe with my parents gifts, but it was always a mystery when it came to relatives. Trinkets from a distant land, salmon, books written by people I’d never heard of, puzzles, and generally learning-centered games were the usual mix.

The award-winner for most surprising/confusing gift I’ve ever received goes to the t-shirt/pajamas/Moose art/lounge clothes I received from my grandparents about six years back. Shown in the picture, this apparatus was awesome. No one could decipher whether it was to wear as a dress, as a modern moo-moo, as pajamas…or anything else for that matter. And the moose? No ideas. But the craziest part is that my grandparents must have seen this and thought, ‘this is so Katelin.’

Nevermind the confusion, I wore it around whenever I needed to cheer up, when my brother and I put on a freak-human show (yes, it is really that big), and I’ve taken it everywhere I’ve moved. The moose was so much fun, darn it. It doesn’t get much better than that. The next best gift of this genre came two years ago from Bryan’s grandparents, when his grandmother insisted I wear and keep the pajamas she had ordered from a catalog earlier that month. Even though I came equipped with my own pajamas for the night, who could turn down a floor-length, cap-sleeve white nightie with embroidered flowers around the neckline? Needless to say, I’m loaded with the big guns for my honeymoon!

We have this thing in my family called ‘return everything you don’t like, it won’t hurt anyone’s feelings.’ So we do. I didn’t realize that this was an anomaly to a lot of families, and maybe helps solidify why I have thick skin. When I told Bryan I took back all my Christmas gifts from my parents one year, he almost died.

So my mom usually makes it pretty clear what she does/does not want for Christmas, especially to my father. It’s the typical routine for me to sweep in the week before Christmas, share a pow wow with my dad, and then go find and secure whatever item I have ultimately suggested is best. Though he’s been more self-sufficient in recent years, there were a few key times in my life where I severely regretted not being a part of this perilous decision-making process. One Christmas, my mom had asked for CoCo Chanel perfume. He bought her (literally) the whole set…which miffed her because she doesn’t like to smell like Chanel in the bath tub or particularly enjoy it burning all over her skin. Her next gift was the absolute best…a pair of bright red crochet slippers that had white tips on the heels and toes. These little ‘booties’ were complete with two jingle bells tied with green ribbon to the back of the ankles. My mom laughed and said ‘Oh, honey! What a great joke.’ It was a rough exchange afterward as she learned that this was not at all a joke. How could he look at those and think, ‘she’ll probably love to wear these around the house?’

And there was also the year that my brother Thomas bought everyone a gift except me. So awkward. I guess he didn’t double-check his list! But I guess it’s the karma I get for having re-gifted presents I got to Luke because he was too young at the time to realize it.

My family is a hoot to be around opening gifts. We don’t display good poker faces and we don’t hold back laughter easily…and our presents from the relatives are just the icing on the cake.

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