Tuesday, December 05, 2006

‘Tis the Season to Go Shopping, Fa la la la la la la la la…

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…


Fresh Mommy said...

Well, I've always been impressed by your ability to match your bra, underwear, and socks (!) to your outfit. Open my underwear drawer and you'd think there are only three colors in this world -- black, white, and beige.

And honorable blog readers, Staci is being very modest about her weightloss. She's one hot mama these days. Lookin' good, Blondie!

Jill said...

Color Draping! Now I have to worry about something called color draping?

Lately I've just been relying on my 14-year old for fashion coaching. Last weekend he coached me to roll jeans above tall boots. I felt very weird, but he assured me that I was stylin.' If only I didn't keep hearing laughing behind my back.

Haley-O said...

Yikes! Jean shopping with mom! Good luck with that! :)

Joe Blo said...

Pretty interesting about the weight loss. Impressive! Does it coincide with any other big life events???

Mom101 said...

Oh this is so funny - and yet so painful.

If you hate giving gifts, maybe you just have to stop worrying about what people will think of the gift and realize that they'll probably just be happy that you made the effort. At least most normal, functioning adults will. I say bake everyone cookies and be done with it. Who hates cookies?

scribbit said...

There certainly is a lot of pressure to buy gifts, lots of them, and I hate it when I get it wrong by buying something someone doesn't like. Though when I get it right I love it.

Pendullum said...

Clothes... May not be your thing...
As this blog clearly has stated...
but I think a bookstore you could certainly manuevre with great ease...

Anonymous said...

Staci, To me, this concern shows your true mommie self with all its components: worry, love, caring, fear of hurting someone else and the influence of a mother who, like my mother, was obsessed with appearances. I have over half my life in the last century and I can tell you this, clothes and shoes that are comfortable are preferable to their penultimate opposite. You have the ability to take the time to write a poem specifically for each person by incorporating your affection for them, along with a generally informed point of view which you display in all your blogs. You don't have to be perfect, as your mother may have wished you to be. You are perfect as you are. Let your mother shop for you, or not. If it pleases her to give to you in this way, allow it in a judicious way, which is to say, not all the time.

And please have a wonderful Christmas and holiday and New Year, all of you and those you love.

Annie A. Petersen

mad muthas said...

your mum sounds deliciously contrary! you can look forward to plagueing your kids in exactly the same way for many happy years to come ... (mwahahaha!)

PunditMom said...

Oh, good luck! I can't even imagine shopping for clothes with my mother without one of us winding up dead. Of course, in her mind, you're crazy (or rich or pretending to be rich) if you spend over $20 on a top!