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What do I get (with apologies to the Buzzcocks...) - The inexplicable charisma of the rival [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Just me.

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What do I get (with apologies to the Buzzcocks...) [Feb. 9th, 2005|02:00 am]
Just me.
My birthday is in less than a month. My mother keeps pestering me about what do I want for my birthday. I try explaining that I don't need anything (I have been professionally employed for about a decade now, so I'm doing okay for towels/socks/ramen) nor do I want a check to "treat myself to something nice". I tried saying " just send me a card", but this was poo-poohed as silly. I'm the only child of a 60+ year old Southern mother whose worldview insists that a daughter should have something to open on her birthday, even if she is hard to buy for and lives over 1000 miles away. So I'm left to come up with an answer that will please me to open as much as it will please mom to wrap it up for me.

My answer for "what do you want for Christmas" was flannel sheets, as these are reasonably inexpensive ($50 or so ) for an Xmas gift. It was a practical choice: I only had one set, they could be easily shipped via a catalog vendor (Land's End, as it turned out) and that they would fit even if I gained holiday pounds (unlike, say, a lycra cocktail dress). This was a wonderful gift, one that I enjoy every other week (when the other set is in the wash). But I probably can't ask for that again only 3 months later, plus, it will eventually get warm again.

I have all the books I require (remember where I work) and can't imagine asking mom for the new Momus or Magnetic Fields CD. Other than nebulous things that can't be shipped via UPS (central heat for my house, some flowering bushes to plant along the fence, various intoxicants, a sushi feast, a tattoo, a haircut that I'm happy with, a week's worth of Mom's etoufee), there's nothing I covet (other than Jon Stewart, but again, he cannot be purchased and/or shipped).

Materially, I'm pretty happy. I don't need Tivo, an iPod, any more DVDs, or gift cards (I still have one from 2 Xmases ago I haven't managed to spend yet). Lately I'm more interested in divesting myself of extraneous clutter than getting more/new stuff. But I don't want to seem ungracious. Mom surprised me many years ago with a lava lamp (she said "You don't know that you want this, but you want this"), but other than that, I seem to be difficult to buy gifts for if you aren't either in my immediate peer group, or a boyfriend (past or present).

I have the same problem with buying gifts for her. Many years, I don't send her a birthday gift, I just phone and wish her a happy birthday. But since I'm not married and have moved cross-country every 5-6 years, I think mom still thinks I'm itenerant and broke and that's the reason I don't send a gift, rather than the real reason that I hate to shop on deadline and am out of ideas. Plus, since she's twice my age and has the same antiquing/thrifting/estate sale-ing gene, she already has a house full of fabulous knick knacks and there's no way I could add anything to the eclectic decor of her house.

Now I think I understand birthday angst (especially at milestone middle ages like 35, 40, 50, etc)-- when you're young and it's your birthday, you desire a pony, or an Atari/Nintendo/xbox (choose based on your generational cohort). When you're college-age, you want money to splurge on an outfit/concert tickets/rent. The older you get, you can afford your own "toys" and neccessities, and the things you REALLY desire (the body you had five years ago, better health, more leisure time, a partner that loves you, a life of fewer regrets) are intangible, and not for sale at any price.

I guess I could use some new slippers, though.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: dougo
2005-02-09 07:39 am (UTC)
Every year I find the gift compulsion more and more absurd, yet I still buy gifts for family members I haven't seen in a year. Let me know if you figure out a good way to break the cycle. (Charity donations maybe?)
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[User Picture]From: the_autoclave
2005-02-09 09:01 am (UTC)

Re: spend that gift card!

ooh, calphalon pans are good. we got them off of our wedding registry - no regrets, a source of culinary joy.
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[User Picture]From: the_autoclave
2005-02-09 09:00 am (UTC)

some ideas

Dear Ms 7

You articulately outline a problem for many of us. Kudos. I must hasten to reassure that this: "I'm the only child of a 60+ year old Southern mother whose worldview insists that a daughter should have something to open on her birthday, even if she is hard to buy for and lives over 1000 miles away. So I'm left to come up with an answer that will please me to open as much as it will please mom to wrap it up for me."
is simply untrue. Believe me.

If no gift really is unnacceptable;
*a charitable donation in your name
*goats or beehives or something via Heifer
*she could make you FEEL like you have shed five years by buying you a treatment at a day spa (if you could bear it)
*she could fly you to her for a visit (too expensive)
*you could make her promise to visit and go rooting around in antique/thrift/estate sale stuff together for a whole weekend
*you could actually try asking her for magnetic fields or whatever, my parents are in their sixties and my mum gets a kick out of going into Avalanche (indie rekkid stor in Glasgow) and asking for Belle & Sebastian
*slippers, pajamas, robe
*plant(s) for your garden - or just seeds
*nice, clean copies of old family recipes which are currently grease stained, crumbling and tucked in teh back cover of Betty Crocker on her kitchen bookshelf

If she's creative why not ask for something she's made?

Anyway, you made me feel inspired, so I sure hope that helped. i never did connect you with my freshly Seatlle-based friends, did I? i'll do that.
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[User Picture]From: herbaliser
2005-02-09 09:01 am (UTC)
I've asked for money for the past five+ years. It works out ok.
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[User Picture]From: haineux
2005-02-09 03:12 pm (UTC)
Presents are the answers to a riddle. They should surprise you yet be perfectly obviously exactly correct.

So "What do you want for your birthday?" is the same statement as "Heard any good jokes recently?"
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[User Picture]From: lemur68
2005-02-09 04:10 pm (UTC)
Oh please don't say 35 is middle age. :(

And this reminds me, I still need to send you that Momus video....
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