It’s almost my birthday, and presents are starting to come in. I don’t know why, but presents have always made me depressed, be it birthday, christmas, graduation, whatever. I always feel like I haven’t really done anything to deserve a present.
It’s even worse when I get a present I don’t want. It’s not that I get angry like a spoiled brat that I didn’t get what I asked for, I just feel bad that people spent money on me, and imagine the present feeling hurt and rejected, which I know is silly. Sorta like a puppy, opened up at christmas, and then rejected by the child it was intended for, so the puppy is then put in a box and on the curb to whimper in the rain, alone, unwanted, and cold…
I’ve have had a bad history with present and my family. I’m not saying they give bad presents, no, we’ve just had a bad history around present giving.
My dad used to travel a lot for business. He would always stop and get me presents to bring home. I remember the first time I got a present I didn’t really like. It was a t-shirt or something, can’t remember what it was of, but I finally worked up the courage to tell him thanks, but I didn’t want it. That made me cry. I felt so horrible.
(I remember watching some Nickelodeon game show as a kid where they were blowing up RC cars. I remember crying over this because I imagined a nice small group of people at the toy factory, putting a lot of love into making these little RC cars in the hopes that children would enjoy playing with them, only for these innocent cars to be blow up in a heartless manner for some amusement.)
Anyways, the worst I remember was my 12 year old birthday. I got nothing that I asked for, and all the presents were weird little things including this plane that hung from some fishing line and flew around. It was very heavy in the back and I couldn’t figure out how to get it to work. It kept wanting to go backwards. I cried about that, thought it was stupid how they made it so heavy in the back. That broke my parents’ hearts. And then it broke mine for breaking theirs.
The next present giving occasion I fucked up was one in which my parents got me a video camera. I again had made a list of things I would be interested in as presents, and again got nothing on the list. (My parents always used to ask us to make a christmas list, I was especially hard to buy presents for because of my extremely niched hobby) Anyways, I had written this list of possible presents, all of which were not very expensive, and my parents went out and bought an expensive video camera that I didn’t ask for. At the time I didn’t think I would need one. Yeah my friends and I were making movies, but we already had a camera. (My “friend” and I were always in a “keeping up with the Jones-es” war, he always had to have the newest and best thing, better than mine, and so he relegated my camera to backup camera)
Well I got upset with my parents for spending this much money on a camera I didn’t want, instead of a whole list of possible things I did want that were drastically cheaper, and that broke their hearts again, and again mine. My mother broke down in tears, and my dad just left the room, silent. I still haven’t forgiven myself for saying anything. I did end up liking the camera, and it did come in handy.
You’d think I would have learned. I got upset another christmas later when I got an ipod instead of a more basic mp3 player. I hated the popularity of ipods, and was trying to resist. I figured I only needed a CD worth of music, not a could GB. (I later would change my mind) But I again got upset and approached my parents about it, wanting them to return it and get a cheaper one as so to save the money) My mother again broke down in tears, and my father, furious, came out and said how they had been a gift to from a business client, that he didn’t spend any money on them. I felt like shit. Again.
I think I’ve finally learned to just shut up and accept presents. My girlfriend pointed out that she thought this practice of “making a list of the things you’d like” and asking people “what do you want for X” was particular, and that presents were not supposed to be given that way. They aren’t supposed to be something you ask for in advance, they are supposed to be a surprise gift that someone thinks you will enjoy, that they are giving to you because they care.
I fucked up presents so bad in the past with my family they just make me depressed now. I wish I hadn’t said anything and just enjoyed them for what they were.