Haunted by the Ghosts of Xmas Presents

You know what I want for my birthday every year? People not to know it’s my birthday. The only thing I dread more than my birthday is Xmas, and those two have one thing in common: I stand the risk of getting presents.

In a nutshell, if I don’t have it already, I probably don’t want it or I would have bought it for myself. That is, unless I talk about it a whole lot, but then it’s probably too expensive for you to get me anyway. Okay, maybe you could get it for me if it’s something I talk about all the time, but would it be exactly the right one? Would it be the right color? Would it have all the options I wanted? Are you willing to take that chance? I hope not, because I really don’t like dealing with the awkwardness that inevitably ensues when I pull off the giftwrap and it’s a near miss.

And even if you get me the right one, I’ll feel really guilty because I didn’t get you anything because I’m never sure that I’m getting you something you really want and not something that I’ll just be forcing you to return for store credit you’ll never use. See? I just find it awkward to receive things that I don’t want and will probably never use myself. It’s just a huge waste to me, and I feel terrible about rejecting something someone put an effort into getting for me.

There’s just no way you’re going to know me well enough to figure out what I want. Usually that takes me a long time and I’m with me twenty-four hours a day. I will agonize for months over buying something. Yes, I have entirely too many guitars for someone with only two hands. What you can’t see when you look at them all is how many hours of research I did before I could buy an instrument with the confidence that it was the “right one.” And you can’t see how many guitars I’ve passed over in pawn shops and music stores and eBay auctions… all because they weren’t perfect. If you bought me one you happened think I wanted (but I haven’t bought myself yet), then you’re just rushing the process. Oh, and even when I eventually settle on a guitar and actually buy it, guess what happens? I still end up modifying it by swapping out the tuning keys or the bridge or the pickups or putting in a preamp or… you get the picture. I do this with everything, especially with things I didn’t buy for myself. Unless I can return it. Wait. I can’t? You don’t have the receipt? Dammit.

And you don’t ever, ever want to buy me clothes. For one thing, while I have no actual sense of style, there is a very narrow range of styles I will wear. And I only wear maybe four different colors (if you count grey or white as colors)… and they have to be just the right shade at that. I mean, they calibrate spectrographic instruments by the few wavelengths of colors in my closet. I’m just weird like that.

My mom hasn’t figured this out yet though. Every year she tries to buy me clothes that she would like me to wear. Yes, you read that right. Clothes she would like for me to wear, not clothes I might like to wear. These are two mutually exclusive categories. What I never get for Xmas is why she does this exactly.

Oh, and please don’t ever buy me movies. If I see a movie I like, then I’ve already paid the ticket/rental price. If I then decide to buy it to watch it once or twice, then I’m paying the entire price of the dvd to watch it maybe once more every couple of years. In the meantime it just sits around cluttering up my house until I finally decide to get rid of it. I just can’t see buying a movie in the first place, and I don’t want anyone else buying me one either. No, not even for the Star Wars movies. Besides, they’re at the library for free.

You know what? Even if you got me exactly what I wanted, I would still feel bad if I found out you paid too much (i.e., more than I could have gotten it for myself) or if you bought it from a store I hate (too long a list for me to give you… even for Xmas). Yes, you’re right; it is the thought that counts. Now stop and use that thought to think about how miserable I’ll be if you get me anything for Xmas. Thanks. That’s the best thing I never received.

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