Okay, let’s face it. Many of us (let’s be honest now) have a bought holiday gift, possibly even wrapped it, and when the time came to put it under the tree, we couldn’t find it! Maybe we bought it a tad bit early, catching a great sale. We stashed it in the perfect “hiding place” so the recipient wouldn’t find it until that “special moment.”
Time for the unveiling. Christmas Eve or morning…everyone eagerly unwrapping their beautifully decorated packages and… what the heck? Where are the leather gloves I bought after Thanksgiving? What happened to the monogrammed ornament? Damn, I could have sworn I bought a new crossword dictionary, DVD, pair of earrings, state-of-the-art gizmo, body lotion set, sweater, cashmere scarf and on and on!
I used to be the “Queen of the Hidden Gifts” and “Master of the Stash,” hiding gifts in the attic, in storage crates, in the garage, out in the shed, anywhere I knew prying eyes wouldn’t either think of looking or couldn’t easily get to. For the more common places like under the bed or in the closet, the gifts were so meticulously wrapped, I would know in an instant if that sneaky someone tried to sneak a peek. I was a kid once too!
Alas, it never fails. There is usually ONE gift that gets lost in the shuffle. Last year it was a pair of jeans for my daughter. I hid the wrapped box under the bed in the spare room; I had other gifts under there too which I remembered to put under the tree. But this box somehow got shoved behind an “under the bed storage bin” and escaped my vision.
While putting away a blanket in March, I discovered the package. OMG, what is this? I didn’t care that it was wrapped; I impatiently ripped off the ribbons and tore open the paper. There in the box, so carefully covered with sparkly holiday tissue, was a pair of designer jeans I bought for my daughter. Ah, now I remember…I bought them online in November after receiving her Christmas list, swearing it was the last time I’d ever pay that much for jeans again. They arrived early so I wrapped them up in a hurry and carefully hid them w—a—y under the bed so she wouldn’t find them.
A light bulb went off in my head. Easter was around the corner, so why waste the gift by giving it to her now? I’d wait until Easter and put the re-wrapped gift with her Easter basket. Yes, I still give my teenage daughter an Easter basket, usually filled with “girly” things, maybe a CD or DVD, a gift card and, of course, a delicious chocolate bunny.
Sure enough, Easter morning, my daughter wakes and with bright eyes dashes into the den to discover the basket…and a box? Of course, she ripped open the now pale yellow and green wrapped box first. “What’s this?” she asked quizzically. I confessed. My daughter just gave me a look and then laughed. “It figures” was her comment. I asked her to try them on after breakfast. A week later, she still hadn’t tried them on. “I don’t really like these, please don’t be angry.” Are you kidding me? My sharp comment was “They were on your list; you asked for them!” Stupid me; didn’t I realize by now teen girls are fickle and change their mind like we change our underwear?
Fast forward six months. Now it’s autumn. The jeans, with the tags, are still in her closet, unworn. My daughter is in college. I’m ticked. That pair of jeans was expensive but I knew by this time they would never be seen on my daughter’s bottom. I halfheartedly folded the pair and gently laid it on top of the rest of the clothes I had in a bag set aside for charity. Normally I donate to a different charity each year and unfortunately have witnessed some less than charitable behavior by staff members. On three occasions, I’ve seen my bags of clean, carefully folded garments being torn open and rifled through, with the individuals removing what they want for themselves before putting the other items on the table for distribution or sale.
Well, I couldn’t worry about it now. Did it really matter? It was my fault I misplaced the gift. I can’t blame my daughter for changing her mind and I couldn’t find the receipt. Hopefully, some young girl is now happily dancing around in those beautiful blue designer jeans, feeling like she’s “all that.”
This series of events taught me two important lessons: First, learn by my mistakes; second, giving should come from the heart, not the wallet. Would I really have minded if the jeans cost $10 rather than the ridiculous price I paid for them? This year, I’ve made a decision. ALL presents will be kept in my bedroom, wrapped or unwrapped. If the recipient wants to sneak around, find it and not be surprised on Christmas morning, so be it. I’m also keeping a list of every gift I buy so I’ll be able to keep track. Funds are limited this year so there won’t be as many gifts anyway.
More importantly, from now on, I’m buying a couple of extra gifts to donate to charity. They’ll be wrapped in brightly colored paper with beautiful ribbons and given to those in need, wherever they may be. After all, this is the season of giving.
“For it is in giving that we receive.” ~ St. Francis of Assisi