Sunday, August 28, 2016

Receiving Gifts Gracefully Is Not My Superpower

You know that impossible-to-shop for person? The one who is way too particular, doesn’t spend money on frivolous things, and says they don’t need anything? The one for whom you dread having to find a gift? I am that person. I am that ungrateful gift recipient who pretends (not often succeeding) that I like the gift while choking back a scream. Almost every year I buy myself at least one Christmas gift and hand it to my husband with the instructions “just wrap this for me.” I pity my husband and children, who have tried their heroic best over the years. Every once in a while they score. More often, not so much. I have worked at cultivating the ability to appreciate the effort, the love that goes into the giving of a gift to someone special. I have improved at appreciation. But I need to work harder on my gift-receiving skills.

I have tried the tactic of asking for something quite specific. It’s amazing how many ways this can go wrong. I ask for lemon soap. I get a soap that contains parabens, yellow dye, petroleum products, and several ingredients I can’t pronounce. The soap scares me. I dispose of it properly at the hazardous waste drop-off at the dump. I ask for notecards. I get notecards with adorable mice trotting across them. I have a deep-seated aversion to mice. The cards make me have the urge to stand on the furniture and holler “eek.” I put them in a paper bag and donate them to the animal shelter. I ask for vegetable seeds and I get beet seeds. If you don’t know how I feel about beets by now you have not been paying attention. I burn the seeds. Beets are the devil’s work.

When I ask Ron for a gift, I must tread extremely carefully. The dear man loves me so much that he takes a simple gift request and turns it into a project of space expedition proportions. I once asked for a few pairs of white cotton socks. I got a box with a dozen pairs of white socks and a dozen other colors too. I did not have enough room to put them away in my dresser and had to buy a storage shed for them. Last Christmas, I asked for a thermometer to put outside my kitchen window so I could see what the temperature was outside. Ron got me an electronic weather station that tells the temperature (both in my house and outside), barometric pressure, moon phase, tide times in the nearest coastal town, likelihood of an earthquake occurring in the next few days within 100 miles, weather forecast for the next week, my bone density, my cat’s bone density, whether my flowers on the deck need watering, and if we are getting low on coffee; tells this in 12 languages (including Eastern Pomo). I keep trying to keep it simple, practical, inexpensive. He keeps trying to give me the moon. So sweet. Sigh.

Our anniversary is tomorrow (34 years) and Ron asked me what I wanted for an anniversary gift. So I was thinking simple and inexpensive and I asked for a massage. Big mistake. He bought a professional, portable massage table and a package of high-quality aromatic essential oils. My first reaction when I saw a massage table in my kitchen was, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! He tries to surprise me with this spectacular thoughtful gift and I ask him how much the thing cost and whatever possessed him and where are we going to put it and does he expect me to give him a massage on it too (because I’m a horrible masseuse) and what material is it made out of and what drug was he on when he ordered it and was it made using child labor and is it too late to return it. Poor Ron. He is like the proverbial cat that brings home the dead bird as the super-darling present and is stunned by the horrified response. To his credit, he maintained Herculean calm, and waited gently for me to finish melting down. Then he assured me it didn’t cost all that much and asked me, “Do you want your massage?” Truthfully, I do want a massage. I just hadn’t planned on keeping the table, the mellow music, the massage oils, and the masseuse.

It took me several hours to climb back into the skin I had jumped out of, so I could start to embrace my new identity as the owner of a massage table. I am still processing this. It is an adjustment. Do I have to wear white clothes around the house now? Should I start drinking my morning smoothie with a straw? Do I need to buy crystals? Should I plant more cucumbers? Must I keep candles burning? Do they have to be scented candles, because I hate scented candles? Should I smudge the house more frequently? I don’t know how the massage table will change my life and if I can handle this much transformation at my age. Is it possible that I may have to actually relax? It’s tough having a husband whose long-term objective is to rock my world.

I don’t do well with gifts. They confuse me. They are surprise elements that I have to incorporate into my life. Gifts make me anxious. At least the massage table is an improvement over the gift he gave me last year.

Last year Ron gave me a poo aid for our anniversary. He bought something called a Squatty Potty. It’s a plastic stool that wraps around the front of the toilet for the pooer to put their feet up on, the better to push with. It provides a better angle for pooing, or something like that based on trajectory science. Possibly it has something to do with the laws of aerodynamics. I don’t completely understand the biochemistry of it. Ron was pretty excited about this thing. I could not summon an equal level of enthusiasm. I tried using it once and it failed to take me to a higher level of consciousness. I have never used it again. I believe I was born with the genetic ability to naturally achieve the exact optimum poo angle. I have excellent pooing genes. In my case, my pooing ability probably qualifies as a superpower. Several months after this gift was presented to me, I stumbled upon an article in a wellness journal about the Squatty Potty. It said that it is an amazingly beneficial device, that, for some people, is life-changing. Who knew? Perhaps it has changed my husband’s life. As for me, I am just the ungrateful wretch with a perfect pooing superpower who can’t appreciate a transcendent gift.

Obviously, I did not solicit the poo aid. I did not even, for instance, say, in an offhand manner, “I want an anniversary gift that will surprise the shit out of me.” If I had, my sweetheart husband would probably have gone on beyond the poo aid and bought me a home colonoscopy kit. I doth protest too much, dothen’t I? Such an unlucky wife, that I ask for a massage and my husband gives me the entire massage parlor. I think next year for our anniversary I will ask for stuffed grape leaves and then maybe he will give me a trip to Greece.  

[I’m taking a break from blogging for a week to spend time with my children, who are all coming home to see me and my father, who is coming to visit. Nothing like family fun.]

I think this soothing image of massage is much better for this post 
than an image of a Squatty Potty.

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