by Rebecca Drake
I love the holiday season. I love the pageantry of Christmas, the lights that brighten otherwise bleak afternoons, the spicy scent of pine, the warm memories that hanging my favorite ornaments evokes. About the only thing I don’t like about Christmas is the exchanging of gifts.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Scrooge. I enjoy buying gifts for other people. The part I don’t like is the pressure to receive gifts graciously, to smile when you hate it, to refrain from saying, “What the hell is that?”
When I was a kid I used to snoop for my presents, not because I couldn’t wait to see what they were, but to prepare my reactions. I couldn’t bear the thought of hurting my family’s feelings and would practice big, Hollywood-worthy smiles and saying, “Wow! I’ve never gotten anything like this before!”
We’re taught that it’s the thought that counts, but I’ve got to tell you that there are many times when I’m left wondering just what they were thinking, if they were thinking anything at all.
I mean, how do you explain the acrylic sweater with huge black patches on a gray and white background? How did that purchase get made? They’re walking through the store and spot this item of clothing and say, “Wait! There’s the perfect gift! A sweater that looks like a cow!”
And what am I supposed to say upon receipt of such a gift? “My god, I’ve always wanted to look like a barnyard animal!”
So along with my holiday baking I’m perfecting my holiday smile. I’ll hope my gasp is mistaken for pleasure and say with complete sincerity, “Gee, thanks. You shouldn’t have!”
Contest time: What is the worst present you’ve ever received?
(Winner gets the cow sweater.)