Life in Poland

Christmas presents…You shouldn’t have…

raggedy annWho doesn’t like to get a present? I mean everybody likes presents. I remember as a child receiving a doll with long, blonde hair that was taller than me that I absolutely loved. I remember a doll house which I also loved and played with for many years and a Raggedy Ann doll also life-size and beautifully handmade by my Great Aunt. I played with the Raggedy Ann doll sometimes all day but it freaked me out so much at night that we had to pack it away. But what fun is it to talk about those gifts which hit their mark? It is much more fun to talk about those gifts that hit a little (or a lot) off center.

I know how it feels to think that you have got somebody the perfect present only to find out that they hate it. One year, I got my sister a set of gourmet teas with all the accessories. It was not a pre-packaged set. I lovingly composed it myself, spending a lot of time in the tea shop smelling teas and choosing the chopinaccessories. I hauled it all the way from Poland and was so worried about it, I even carried it on the plane. My sister opened it Christmas morning and said, “Thank you,” to which my mother said, “You don’t even drink tea, do you?” She replied, “No,” and burst my bubble. Now, they get Polish alcohol and everybody is happy.

recip saw My father usually gets my mother one gift that she might like (or she might not) and another gift that is actually for him. A gift combination from my father could be jewelry (or perfume or kitchen equipment) PLUS a reciprocating saw. Unfortunately for my mother, that’s exactly what she got one year. My father also has a habit of buying my mother jewelry (one year diamond, another ruby, another emerald) and that same year buying the same jewelry for my sister and myself, but fake. He always says that it is the thought that counts and he didn’t think that we would notice the difference. Hardy har har. After about the 10th Christmas of fake jewelry, my sister informed our father that next Christmas she wanted something green. It took him awhile to figure it out. (If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’ll help you. Dollars are green.)

That brings us to my all time worst Christmas of Christmas gifts. Sometimes, it is not actually the gift which is bad but the combination of receiving it as a gift and from a particular giver. You know there are dad gifts, grandmother gifts, co-worker gifts and romantic partner gifts. We shouldn’t mix them. I mean it is great to get sexy underwear from your spouse, but not so cool to get it from your grandma. D’ya get my drift? One year my old boyfriend (all high school and all college) gave me for my birthday a combination snow brush/ice scraper. It was a kind of a dad gift not a romantic partner gift. Anyhow the ice scraper is very heavy duty and is basically awesome and I still have it. I threw it in the back of my car when I sent it to Poland and have not been able to find one here just like it since. Once after a morning snowstorm, I was quickly cleaning off my car and some interested taxi-drivers got out of their cars to check my scraper and inquire where I had bought it. I told them that I bought it the same place I got my car and my accent. Yeah, they didn’t get it either.

With that kind of birthday gift, whatever should I expect for Christmas? Well, the box was about the size of a shoe box but much, much heavier. I was hoping it was the old “brick in the box” trick and that I would find something small and shiny somewhere in there. However, when I shook it, it didn’t rattle at all. Hmmm, perplexing. I opened it slowly with all eyes on me, his mother assuring me that I would love it. That alone was a bad sign. I pulled back the paper and saw the box, but it could just be the box, right? That didn’t have to be my gift. Some people re-use boxes from other gifts, don’t they? Nope, it’s my gift. Well, that would explain why it was so small and so heavy. So as I pulled my brand, spanking new fire safe security chest out of its box, I smiled bravely as my boyfriend beamed and explained how I could store my valuables and protect them from fire. He also explained that it actually had a lot of room inside for storing documents, pictures and jewelry. Jewelry? Did I hear jewelry? I thought with the last glimmer of hope that this must be a gag gift and he’s leading me through the joke to get to the real gift inside the chest. I dug through the paper, found the key to the chest, opened it and found that yes, it was quite spacious inside especially because it was empty. Are any of you surprised that we are no longer together?

PS If you are wondering what a fire safe security chest looks like, here you are:security chest

PS2 Misiu says he doesn’t know why Raggedy Ann freaked me out. He kind of likes her.

raggedy ann costume

What are some of your most memorable gifts?

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