I totally fail as Santa

Eight days until Christmas and there remain a couple of gifts with which I am struggling. I am typically a fairly good gift-giver, honing in on things that the recipient will enjoy and that may have special significance as far as our relationship goes–that on the surface, it’s one thing, and underneath, it’s also something else–a reason to make them smile, a private joke, something special.

One person whose gift(s) I have been struggling with is Jason. I figured “Hey, we haven’t been going out long, so it doesn’t need to be an ordeal, right?”. Right? But then he said “Oh, I was thinking about getting you a new monitor for Christmas.”

…Crap. Not that it would be an unappreciated gift, but now what I’d already purchased was woefully inadequate. I needed something better. But what might he like? I don’t know him well at all yet! I messaged our mutual friend Tristan with “I need some help with Jason” and he immediately responded with “I’m Switzerland! Neutral!” “Whoa, whoa, we are not fighting, I just need help with gift ideas!” “…I don’t know, I’ve always had a problem getting gifts for him, too.”

…Double crap. I thought, and thought, and thought, the six brain cells I had left grinding so furiously that smoke began to waft out of my ears and the air began to smell vaguely of fried pork and ozone. I finally copped to him, “I’m sorry, but I have no idea what to get for you for Christmas. What do you want?”


“I’m sorry, did you say socks? S-O-C-K-S, socks? Socks are not a good gift. Traditionally in my family, socks are a gift which is cried over*. Try again.”

“Maybe a t-shirt.”

Socks and a t-shirt. The fabric of our lives. This is what led to this totally-slick text message I sent today: “What size t-shirt do you prefer? If you were getting one as a gift which is not to say that you are?”


*My little brother used to be more excited for Christmas than any other kid, EVER. When the JC Penney Christmas catalog arrived, he would pore over it obsessively, composing an extensive list, circling things, and dog-earing the pages. As the holiday approached, he would search the house up and down, looking for packages he could poke or prod. One year, he triumphantly announced he knew what he was getting for Christmas because he had found the list he made in our mother’s jewelry box with certain items checked off. A week or two before Christmas, my mom would put out the gifts from the family under the tree, and the sparkling wrapped packages only served to increase my brother’s frenzy and intense desire to open them NOW. Every night, he would plead with my parents to be allowed to open one gift under the tree, just one, please, just one, because he just couldn’t take it any longer. My parents had various ways of dealing with this request. One year, my mom told him he could open a gift early, but that she had a special one for him in the basement and that she would go and get it. She went to the basement, quickly placed a shiny quarter in a box, wrapped it, and brought it upstairs. The rest of the family laughed raucously while he cried in his bitter disappointment, because as a family unit we are cruel, adept at hurting one another, and each take genuine pleasure from terribly mean jokes. Another year, the week before Christmas, my mom had made a large pot of chili, which my brother, a notoriously picky eater, refused to eat. She bargained with him–if he ate an entire bowl of chili, he could pick a present to open from under the tree. Watching my brother gag while forcing chili down his throat made for a poignant Christmas scene, particularly when my dad remembered the reason for the season and snapped at my mom, “JESUS CHRIST, Jill, don’t make him vomit at the table!” Under twinkling Christmas lights, gagging all the way, my brother finished the chili and dashed for the tree, picking a package he’d had his eye on all week. He ripped through the paper, opened the box, and found several pairs of socks, and cried, and cried, and gagged, and cried, while the rest of us laughed. To this day, I don’t recognize a holiday unless someone is crying.

54 Comments I totally fail as Santa

    1. admin December 17, 2010 at 10:44 pm

      There’s some good stuff there! I don’t know why I always forget about thinkgeek.

  1. dslartoo December 17, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    …….migod, you have had some fucked-up family holidays. That said, I too laughed raucously at your brother’s bitter disappointment at (respectively) his shiny quarter and his socks. I am therefore clearly a horrible person as well.

    As for your freaking out over Jason, all I can say in that regard is that in my opinion, Christmas gifts shouldn’t be a function of how much money was spent. It’s the thought that matters, the fact that you wanted to get them something special to show you cared. So if he gets you a monitor and you got him socks, but he could really use the socks and they make him happy, more power to him. 🙂


    1. admin December 17, 2010 at 10:46 pm

      I’m sure we had some idyllic holidays, too, it’s just the meanfunny things that I remember!

      It’s not so much freaking out as wanting to make an earnest gesture, which I feel is difficult to do with socks. However, I think I’ve got a surprise or two figured out. 🙂

  2. technophobe1975 December 17, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Heh heh, what a great story, showing the true spirit of Christmas 🙂

    1. admin December 17, 2010 at 10:52 pm

      My brother’s reactions to gifts have always been particularly funny if not spirit-of-Christmas oriented. Or funny to me, at least, if frustrating to the gift-giver, because his desires changed like the wind. There was another tear-filled Christmas when he opened up a leather 49ers jacket that my mom was SO PROUD to have found for him…except it was also the year that Joe Montana, his favorite player, went to the Chiefs, so he wasn’t a 49ers fan anymore. There was probably a good 45 minute back and forth of “Just try it on, goddamnit!” followed by tear-choked “I don’t WANNA”s.

  3. gldngrrl December 17, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Wow what a christmas story.
    My holiday memories, despite all the dysfunction in my life, are pretty benign. I should appreciate that more.

    Now that I have dramallamas of my own, in the form of my teenaged children, well… it’s not a holiday around here unless mom cries and Gabe breaks something.

    1. admin December 17, 2010 at 10:53 pm

      hahahaha do you cry before or after Gabe breaks something?

      1. gldngrrl December 17, 2010 at 10:54 pm

        hmm I haven’t thought about that specifically- I think it all blurs together.

        I’m hoping for a better holiday this year 😛

        1. admin December 17, 2010 at 10:58 pm

          Hell, the hiccups and blurps and pettiness is what makes me REMEMBER these holidays, what makes them special in a stupid kind of way.

          1. gldngrrl December 17, 2010 at 11:10 pm

            true , it gets to the point where I will look back and think, “hey kids, remember that christmas mom got really drunk and…”
            and they’ll say,
            “which one?”

          2. admin December 17, 2010 at 11:17 pm


  4. cuntress December 17, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    The first year I brought Josh home for xmas, my grandma agonized over getting him only socks, but she didn’t know what else to get him. It was his favorite gift. He’s a sock guy. Loves new socks.

    1. admin December 17, 2010 at 10:56 pm

      I’ve never bought dude socks before, I was surprised to see the difference between them and lady socks. Lady socks are sold based on prettiness, dude socks are so performance-based! “Odor-resistant! With magic moisture-wicking powers! Arch support! Will take seconds off your 50-yard dash time! W@tc|-| ouT lad1e5, her3 cums v1@gr/-\ soc|< dud3!~"

  5. scearley December 17, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    you should get him a catapult.

    1. admin December 17, 2010 at 11:07 pm

      I don’t know that I could just give away a catapult. That wouldn’t be a gift for him, that would be a gift for us.

      1. scearley December 17, 2010 at 11:10 pm

        I’ll give you a home depot parts list (about $50) and you can build it together.

        1. admin December 17, 2010 at 11:17 pm

          Please do! Oh, such retribution my neighbors shall have!

  6. weaselmom December 17, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Maybe a pair of cashmere socks made from the hair of goats* that were hand-shorn by blind French nuns on one of the more inaccessible alps?

    What is his favorite band? Can you scour the Internets for a vintage t-shirt for that band?

    Just think how much easier this would have been if instead of “socks” he had just said “sex” like most guys.

    *I don’t know what the fuck cashmere is made of, and it’s been a really rough week, so work with me on this

    1. admin December 17, 2010 at 11:06 pm

      That is why I made certain socks was what he said, with spelling. S-o-c-k-s, not s-e-x? Are you sure?

      How are you holding up? I’ve been thinking about you.

      1. weaselmom December 17, 2010 at 11:10 pm

        Thank you! It’s been rough, which makes me feel stupid for feeling so bad, which makes me feel worse, so it’s good there’s no vodka in the house. Got a letter from WSU today that our vet made a contribution in her memory, so cue bawling in 3, 2, 1. The other two are sad, I think – they’ve been looking for her. Gah.

        I would like to change my answer to “catapult” also.

        1. gldngrrl December 17, 2010 at 11:11 pm

          awwww… cute little fuzzy….

        2. admin December 17, 2010 at 11:23 pm

          I don’t think it’s stupid to mourn for a beloved pet. They touch your life and your heart and it would be more surprising if you WEREN’T sad.

  7. hopefulspirit December 17, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    It’s tough to know what to get someone when you haven’t been together very long. I bought my brother some socks for Christmas and I know he’ll be excited because he’s been whining for months about all the holes his current socks possess. lol Guys are weird that way. Now let’s hope he approves of the brand I got. Details, you know.

    If that’s how Christmases went in your house, dare I ask about New Year’s or Easter?! LOL

    Thanks for the Christmas card! It made my evening the other day when it came.

    1. admin December 17, 2010 at 11:16 pm

      New Years Eve, we usually assembled a giant puzzle. There was many an Easter where my parents went on vacation and dumped us at grandma’s, one particularly upsetting year when Easter coincided with my birthday, which largely went ignored because my parents were gone and my grandma’s brother died the day before. Ahhh, family holidays!

      I’m glad you liked your card!

  8. lightningflash December 17, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    dude, I LOVE socks for Christmas! It’s become a tradition, actually – particularly when I was in college, I started getting holes in ALL of my socks as the year progressed. I started requesting socks for Christmas, and now it’s to the point where I notice holes and think “gee, it must be close to the holidays!”

    And I agree with the above statement, about what will make him happy, regardless of cost. He’s getting you something that you want/need, regardless of cost, and I think that’s all he’s expecting/wanting from you. 🙂

    Plus, I approve of a guy that wants socks for Christmas. It means he is taking precautions to avoid Marinated Smelly Feet Syndrome.

    1. admin December 17, 2010 at 11:24 pm

      hahahahaha I never thought about it that way. XD

  9. madamecacoon December 17, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    When I was 16, I got my mom socks for her birthday and she was so happy she cried.

    So socks aren’t always a bad present.

    For the record, I was in my rebellious teenage years and I’d made fun of my mom for having holy old lady socks. I bought her some new ones with cats on them. I’m sure it was the thought that made her teary eyed. Anyway. I like to buy Chris socks and underwear because it’s a subtle way of marking him as my territory. Also, if I don’t do it, nobody will and it gets ridiculous.

    1. admin December 17, 2010 at 11:28 pm

      I remember getting my mom a lot of bath stuff for christmas/birthday/mother’s day.

      I enjoy a fresh pair of socks, myself, it just feels strange and entirely too practical to be giving them as a gift.

      1. madamecacoon December 17, 2010 at 11:38 pm

        I think practical gifts are the best kind. I hate getting things that are pretty but that I will never use. Or a novelty that I’ll use a couple times and forget about. I use socks every day.

        1. admin December 18, 2010 at 4:03 pm

          Hmm. Quite a case is being built for socks, here!

  10. g33kgrrl December 17, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    I knit Rob a scarf. I’m poor and I figured he had to like it since it was handmade. And it is cold here. I figured he can get over the fact that he is still slightly allergic to cats and Puck decided to sleep on it in the making, despite my best efforts to keep that from happening.

    I hope your surprises work out. I can’t wait to hear what you decide on!

    1. admin December 18, 2010 at 4:01 pm

      Puck just wanted to contribute a little! 🙂

  11. matrixx December 18, 2010 at 12:31 am

    Buy yourself slutty lingerie. In my experience it is never, EVER ill-received.

    1. admin December 18, 2010 at 4:01 pm

      hahahaha the gift that keeps giving.

  12. seckzee December 18, 2010 at 4:23 am

    oh Jason… how cute. Maybe get him fun magnets, he got Eric these bulky magnets which he loved so instead of just a shirt, you could get him something fun to be entertained by that isn’t too expensive or too emotional, etc.

    1. admin December 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm

      He told me he bought *himself* some of those magnets as well. The trouble is, he sees something he likes and he just gets it. I have mandated no more shopping for himself in December but he hasn’t listened to me!

      1. seckzee December 19, 2010 at 1:59 am

        haha darn well it was worth a try. Maybe get him a non-gendered “manly”gift from Lush? I love that place and they have some non-gendered items that everyone would like. And some are already gift wrapped, so less hassle for you! 🙂 I have the same problem with gifts for Eric because he always gets things when he wants them and when they come out (SC II for example). I’ve bought him board games because they don’t just come out and he seems to have all digital games, but no board game collection.

        1. admin December 20, 2010 at 6:01 pm

          Lush stuff is a good idea, I might have to brave the mall and head over there today!

          How did you like Tron?

          1. seckzee December 20, 2010 at 7:58 pm

            Yay Lush! I also thought of another gift idea… get him a nice winter coat. Guys seem to not own winter coats, just hoodies. I thought Tron was pretty good! I was thinking it would have more Disney cheasiness but it wasn’t too bad, except for the extra use of words that begin with “L” when they were introducing Clu in the first Clu vs. young Flynn fight. “You’re lustrous, luminary, luxurious, leader!” I thought that Quorra was really pretty but didn’t need an ugly black wig. She could have had black hair with a white stripe or something more Tron-styled.

          2. seckzee December 20, 2010 at 7:58 pm

            Oh, and many thanks for letting us cut in line so that we didn’t get stuck in the very front row!

  13. 1_rhiannon_1 December 18, 2010 at 4:59 am

    Socks and a t-shirt. The fabric of our lives

    Could be worse. Could be underwear. No frills, tightie-whitey undies. Not even Froot O’ The Loom brand. Just sayin…

    1. admin December 18, 2010 at 3:59 pm

      True that. 🙂

  14. thecostumegal December 18, 2010 at 12:39 am

    Actually, a gift of funny shirts, socks, or a funny hat and things might be a great gift. Like for my friend, I am getting her a dino hoodie with the pteradactyls are pterrifying shirt, a t rex necklace and dino socks.

    1. admin December 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm

      I would wear the shit out of a dino hoodie. Where did you get it?

        1. admin December 20, 2010 at 6:03 pm

          Aw, for some reason when you said ‘dino hoodie’ I pictured something with spikes up the back and hood.

    1. admin December 18, 2010 at 3:58 pm

      I love sockdreams! 🙂

  15. pikefish December 19, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    omg! I love you! I’m sorry that I’m laughing at your brother and Christmas story but I can’t help it! LOL!!!

    yea, wish I could help you with your b-f-gift! how about an iPod? lol! my answer for everything! what does a monitor cost these days? does he work at a computer place where he will get a discount?

    1. admin December 20, 2010 at 5:51 pm

      I *still* laugh when I think about the tantrums that happened nearly every christmas at our house.

  16. inner_kitsune December 19, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    See, you totally have enough stories of dysfunction to write a book.

    Get him a Man packs subscription:

    It’s a delivery service that brings you new socks and underwear every two months. boyfriend is always so excited when the package comes. Quote, “A+, best service ever!”

    1. admin December 20, 2010 at 5:52 pm

      hahaha I probably do–now how to write it without getting my entire family pissed off at me?

      Man packs is a GENIUS idea.

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