I think I have gift PTSD. As I’ve documented here over and over again, my mother-in-law’s gift-giving leaves a little something to be desired. I’ve realized over the past few weeks, as my son’s third birthday approaches, that I am starting to dread present-receiving opportunities. How sad is that?
Lately, the in-laws have developed a habit of sending Amazon gifts for birthdays, without any gift receipt included to identify who the package is from. No shame in the Amazon game, obviously, but the gifts they choose to send are just weird and inappropriate. Case in point, my poor sister-in-law (whose Amazon wish list is abundant with cute ideas, by the way) received a stuffed Teddy Bear from her parents via Amazon for her 35th birthday. Oy.
So for weeks, I’ve been steeling myself for the inevitable Amazon package containing some random present for K-Man’s third birthday. And yesterday, when I opened the mailbox, there it was. A big fluffy Amazon envelope addressed to my son. I groaned as I carried it inside, groping it all over in an attempt to decipher its contents.
After a few deep breaths and a shot of tequila (just kidding), I ripped open the package. And pulled out … a pair of pruning shears. And a thirteenth-century theological treatise written in the form of “a dialogue among allegorical figures who represent the nature of the relation between the soul and God.” No receipt of any kind.
My blood ran cold. And then very, very hot. I couldn’t be sure who the package was from, but come on. Obviously it was some kind of sick joke from the in-laws, because my father-in-law loves to garden, and my mother-in-law is a classicist. Some kind of sick joke, or they were going senile.
I honestly felt sick to my stomach. This was a new low for them. My sweet little son is turning three and actually understands what it means and is excited about presents, and they send something that I literally can’t even give to him? What the fuck? Do they secretly hate him?
I shot off some angry texts to Hubby and my sister-in-law, looking to commiserate. Hubby groaned along with me, though he was excited about keeping the pruning shears for himself. We briefly discussed instituting a “no more presents” rule that only applied to his parents. And we agreed that we would go out and buy K-Man one more present to replace this mess.
My sister-in-law expressed genuine confusion, and couldn’t believe that her parents would actually send this garbage to a child. She suggested we check with them and confirm that they sent the present, since there was no receipt. Fair enough, I guess, but who else would possibly stoop so low?
So when Hubby got home from work, we called the in-laws. My heart was racing as he dialed the number, but of course as soon as we got on the line, my mother-in-law dominated the conversation for 10 minutes straight. When Hubby finally was able to ask whether they sent K-Man a pair of pruning shears and a philosophical text for his birthday, my MIL burst out laughing.
“I knew it,” I thought to myself. “She thinks this shit is funny. It’s not fucking funny.”
More laughter. “That went to your house?” She asked. And then more laughter. And then it slowly dawned on me, just as she was eking out her own explanation. Yes, the in-laws had purchased these items. No, they had not intended to send them to my son. Their Amazon default address was apparently set to K-Man from a long-ago purchase, and they forgot to change the default before ordering themselves some gardening tools and what sounds like the worst book I will never read.
Holy heck. Was this some crazy conspiracy to give me a heart attack?
So this time, I must admit, I was wrong. My in-laws did not give the worst imaginable gift. Not yet, anyway. And as much as I’m still reeling from that emotional roller coaster, I am relieved to know that their gift-giving awfulness knows some bounds. Thank the Lord.
Until next time,