There are so many reasons to hate the holidays, but right now the one that is stressing me out the most is shopping for gifts. It’s not that I’m stingy or don’t like to give things to people or that I forgot to learn it’s “better to give than to receive.” None of that. It’s because I don’t feel confident buying gifts, even for people I should know well enough to know what they’ll like.
Even my husband. Seriously. Every year my mom will call and ask, “What would your husband like for Christmas?”
And every year I think, Well… hell if I know…
It’s terrible. And naturally, I blame my mother. (Merry Christmas Mom!)
To make a short story long, once I complained to her, “…blah blah blah… And you never took me to DisneyLand.”
And she responded, “Well… I took you to the mall every week.”
Ah, all of those early childhood hours logged at the mall! I hated the mall! Now, I don’t hate the mall anymore per se, but the reason I was practically raised at the mall is my mother is a fashion fanatic. And it is not easy being a girl who doesn’t even notice what anyone is wearing like ever to grow up with a fashionista.
The result is this sad truth: I’m thirty-six years old and my mother still dresses me. Nearly all of my clothes were given to me by her. And anytime she gives me something new, she makes it a point to tell me which pants, jackets, shoes, etcetera will go well with whatever it is.
And I really appreciate this, but it’s kind of hard to shop for other people when you don’t even have the confidence to buy yourself a shirt.
Oh, why can’t I buy a shirt? I'm crippled by the knowledge of the existence of “color draping,” without having a clue how to actually pick the right color. Mom tries to teach me how to do it on my own and here’s how it goes:
She’ll hold a shirt up to me while I’m looking in a mirror and ask, “What do you see, the shirt or your face?”
And I’ll say, “My face.”
And she’ll say, “No you don’t, you see the shirt.”
Then she’ll hold up something else asking, “How about now, what do you see, the shirt or your face?”
“Uh… Hmmm… The shirt?”
And she’ll huff, “No you don’t! You see your face!”
It’s all very complicated, and apparently out of my league. Not like the old days when I just bought everything in black. The other day I was having my hair foiled and noticed everyone who worked at the salon wore all black (it’s the dress code). So I said to the girl doing my hair, “Boy, you better hope you look good in black if you work here, huh?”
She just looked at me like I had two heads. And I was so jealous of her, not having to know that she might not look very cute in black. Why do I have to be burdened with this information?
My mother and I do have lots of fun shopping together now. I rarely hide in the clothes racks and make a ruckus until a nice salesperson asks her to please remove me from the store anymore, at least. But try as she might, she will never convince me that it’s more important that clothes look good than feel good. Case in point:
I was picking out several things I thought I might like to try on when Mom asked, “Are you pregnant?”
“Mother! That’s not very nice!” I retorted
And she said, “Well you’re in the maternity section!”
Aha! So that’s why everything looked so comfortable.
It’s true, I do not have an eye for fashion, and yet I do make an effort not to look absurd. Sometimes I have to resort to e-mailing FreshMommy pictures of me in my jeans to ask if they’re “mom” jeans, because even though I’ve seen the video, when I put them on, they look fine to me. But then I really can’t be trusted to know, judging from recent events.
You see, last year I was too fat to fit into any of my pants and did buy some (very big) new jeans. In style and everything! But now (happily) I’ve gone back to normal. (“Normal” meaning I could really stand to lose about ten pounds… if not fifteen.) But instead of buying new jeans, I just cinched the ones from last year up with a belt. And a couple of weeks ago my girlfriend said, “Your jeans are too baggy, don’t you have any that fit???”
I told her I do have some that fit, but they’re old and I’m not sure if they’re out of style or not, so have been afraid to wear them. And she said she was sure they would be fine and I really should just wear them, because the ones I was wearing were way too big. So Saturday I went to a party at her house wearing my old jeans that fit, and she screeched, “Blondie, how old are those jeans????? Dear God, go shopping already!”
If that’s not enough, here’s the story of the cinching belt… One day I was getting dressed and my husband said, “Why are you wearing my belt?”
I said, “This is my belt!”
He shook his head and muttered something and then said, “If you want it, you can have it, but I don’t know why you wouldn’t just get your own.”
And I thought, Whatever.
A few weeks later my mother came to visit and asked, “Why are you wearing a man’s belt???”
So I secretly put the belt back into my husband’s drawer, hoping he’d forgotten the whole thing. But seriously, I have no idea what is so “manly” about that belt.
Anyway, back to my jeans… my mother called to ask me what I’d like for Christmas and when I told her, “Nothing,” she said, “Well I’m going to get you something, so you might as well tell me what you want.”
So I admitted that evidently I could use some new jeans. “Would you rather a gift certificate to Macy’s or Nordstrom?” she asked.
But before I could answer she thought better of it and suggested, “Maybe instead of a gift certificate we’d better just go shopping when I’m there so I can help you pick them out.”
Um… yeah. That’s probably a good plan Mom. If I could just get her to do the rest of my Christmas shopping too…