This Christmas was probably one of the top three worst Christmases in recent memory. It started on my birthday, where I worked all day–which really wasn’t terrible, since I had several good sales and people wishing me Happy Birthday all day–but more because my birthday present was slightly disappointing and I spent my birthday night watching what turned out to be a terrible movie. Really, I do like my present–it’s a gift card, some socks, and an ornament–but somehow, I still didn’t quite feel jubilant. Also, I recently broke up with the guy I was seeing. It wasn’t working out, but it’s still a little depressing. My mother and I spent an essentially excellent day together yesterday, shopping and hanging out. Then, today happened. It started well. I managed to catch up on a few household chores, then went to my mom’s and made a dessert I promised to bring for Christmas lunch. When she and I exchanged gifts, however, we ran into a little snafu. The headphones I helped her pick out for me weren’t the ones I remembered purchasing. I know, it’s a first-world type of problem and I should be grateful for anything, but it did throw me off a bit. Anyway, she mentioned possibly just exchanging them or purchasing the different headbands–it was supposed to include multiple headbands–if I wanted a different style. The other gift she picked out for me was great–a pasta maker. (I love to bake and cook, so it’s an excellent addition to my kitchen.) We decided we were probably going to Baton Rouge this weekend and would just exchange the headphones there, should I decide to do so. Anyway, she seemed thrilled with her gift and not too upset about the headphones, so we went on our merry way to my uncle’s (her brother’s) house. That’s where the day really nosedived. My mom picked a special type of bowl as my grandmother’s Christmas present this year. She constantly bakes bread, so a bamboo bowl seemed like an excellent choice. Instead of at least appreciating the gift for a few minutes before saying something negative, my grandmother decided to say how overly extravagant a $40 mixing bowl was as a gift and mentioned how all the other presents were more than enough. Of course, when we tried to explain that the other gifts were from my uncle and aunt and this one was from my mom, she proceeded to explain how she has cabinets filled with unused gifts from everyone. When my mom suggested she give back the bowl and my mom would give her something else, my grandmother mentioned something about not wanting to be an Indian giver–which was completely not correct, if she was referring to herself–and insisted she would keep the bowl. It was a disaster. Also, everyone there was my uncle’s family more than our collective group, so my mom felt very left out of things. (I have experienced this feeling for a few years, so I was sort of ready for it. Also, I had some holiday spirits to keep me company.) Well, we left early and drove to the next Christmas area–my aunt’s house (my dad’s family). It was marginally better, except the chaos of my cousin’s children sort of added to the holiday frustration. I think seeing all of them together was both good and bad for my mom’s mood–good because we saw relatives she and I haven’t seen in a while, and bad because I think my mom felt even more detached and alone. Fortunately, my mama (dad’s mom) seemed to enjoy her gifts. Finally, to put the cherry on the cake, I made the mistake of bringing up exchanging the headphones this weekend. Originally, I said I would just keep them, but since my mom spent so much money on them and I want to keep and use them for a long time, I decided I’d try to exchange them. Also, the color doesn’t match what is on the box, so I think I could make a valid point of exchange at the store. This was a very, very bad idea. We searched for almost an hour for the receipt, but we couldn’t find it. She sat down and started to cry. She said she thought she finally found a gift I would love and use, and it still wasn’t what I wanted. I felt like the worst daughter in the world, even though I knew part of it was directed at her mother (she almost cried at my uncle’s house earlier that day). I managed to explain that I did love her gift and that it was my fault for not paying attention when we bought it and not remembering what happened. Eventually we both stopped crying and just sat together for a while watching the news. After that bit, everything was basically okay. We watched part of A Christmas Story and all of You’ve Got Mail, while drinking hot chocolate and mimosas.
We need another day off.
PS: My mom decided it was mostly holiday stress that led to her meltdown. I agree about today being stressful. I’m still going to try and exchange the headphones. ( I explained how the package’s color misled me about the color of the merchandise, and now my mom seems more okay with it. If I can find the receipt or manage to get the store to exchange it, then everything will be almost perfect. If not, then things will just stay a bit less perfect but no less satisfying.)
Also, tomorrow I need to go to the DMV and renew my license before work. Not fun.