It’s better to give

I hate making a Christmas list for myself. I’d honestly much rather give gifts to the people I love than list off the things I want from them. I’ve always been like that. When I was little, my letters to Santa always included pleas for him to bring gifts to others, whether it was good health for my grandpa, a truck for my brother, or homes for all the puppies.

I absolutely love planning amazing gifts for people and (not to brag) I’m really good at it. I wish I could be a professional gift giver.

One Christmas, my brother and I made our entire house like Stars Hallow from Gilmore Girls for my mom. We got her Gilmore Girls themed gifts and turned our kitchen into Luke’s Diner, complete with menus.

For Jen’s birthday one year, I filled a clothing gift box with sand and beach themed items including shells, flip flops, and even a spilled ice cream cone I made out of clay. I tied a shovel to the box and told her to dig for her present. Under the sand I had written that I’d be taking her down the shore for a day for her birthday.

For Renee’s graduation this past summer, I decided to be a little more sentimental. I came up with a list of phrases and then matched them to items. For example: a travel size deodorant that says “don’t sweat the small stuff” and a plunger that says “shit happens”.

I definitely get the gift-giving gene from my mom. She puts so much time and effort into every gift she gives. It’s never been about how much money you can spend, it’s about finding something that makes the person smile. A lot of our family gifts are tied to inside jokes or are just plain silly. My mom always makes us open our gifts in a certain order for maximum effect, with the last gift being the best. Two years ago, my last gift was a stuffed donkey that sang and flapped its ears to Sugar Pie, Honey Bun. My mom thought it was the funniest thing in the entire world, but I couldn’t believe she had wasted $20 on it. So last year, I enlisted all of my friends to help me retaliate. I borrowed every singing stuffed animal I could find and ended up with a collection of almost 30. My brother and I wrapped each one up and planted them in front of the tree for our gift exchange. My mom laughed when she opened the first one, but by the time she got to the tenth she was really freaking out. I finally told her I had not spent all of my paycheck on singing animals and she calmed down.

I’ve planned countless surprise parties since I also love playing hostess. There is nothing I love more than surprising the people I care about. I’ve done a few for my friends, but I also threw one for my mom’s 50th birthday. It was honestly one of the best parties I’ve ever been to (way better than Cornell frats). There is seriously nothing funnier than 20 middle-aged women squinting to read the screen on Catch Phrase and shouting out awkward answers.

My favorite gift I’ve ever given was a Christmas present for my grandma. I was 17 and it was a few months after my grandpa had passed away and she was spending the winter with us since Erie gets hit hard with tons of snow. She had been complaining that the top of her lipstick kept falling off in her purse, so I got the idea to get her a lipstick case. I found a beautiful silver one and decided to have it engraved with “Clara and Butch, Forever and Always” (my grandparents nicknames for each other). It moved her to tears and all of us ended up crying together. Even now, with her short-term memory pretty much gone, my grandma still remembers this gift.

I have a lot up my sleeve this Christmas and have been doing a lot of elfing, but that is a blog post for another time.


Not your average bear

I’m not like other girls.  And I know everyone says that.  But I find it hard to believe that anyone else is anywhere near as weird as I am.

Sophomore year of high school, while all my friends were planning elaborate sweet sixteens complete with dress changes and shirley temple cocktail hours, I felt completely out of place.  Sure, I like to dress up and dance, but I didn’t understand why every one of my peers was having the same exact party.  I knew I wanted to stand out and do something different.

That’s how I ended up at a Chuck E. Cheese on my sixteenth birthday.

My love of skeeball and the fact that I have really never matured from my 8-year-old self convinced me that Chuckie would provide me a birthday bash to remember.  And that it was. We played games, won tickets, and I even got to dance with Chuckie, who was probably either a creepy old man or an overly-excited teenage boy considering where he put his hands.

My friends ended up giving me all of their tickets since I was the birthday girl and I got the best prizes: a princess dress-up set sized for a 3 year old, a Chuck E. Cheese t-shirt, and sparkly bracelets for everyone.

So here I am, six years later, and I would still prefer to spend an evening at a kid’s party place than at a noisy, crowded club.  And that probably makes me sound like a pedophile, but I promise I’m not. I just want to steal babies and dress them up like giraffes.


PS – Somewhere I have a picture of me with Chuck, but since I keep my photos scattered in shoeboxes instead of in organized albums, I’ve yet to find it.  And I need to post this before the bama game because I’ll be super distracted for the next 4 hours.  But if I find it I promise I’ll update!