Christmas presents are, I imagine, a pretty big deal at most houses, at least if most pre-Christmas commercials are to be believed. My mind fills with images of children running down the stairs to a lit up Christmas tree, stuffed with presents beneath the piney branches. Let’s face it; the kids in those cute Target commercials are pretty enthusiastic…. there has to be a reason behind it, right?
Suffice it to say that it’s not a huge deal at our house. Largely, this is because we are Jews. Usually, our holiday is New Year’s Eve. As a child, I was told that Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) comes down at midnight to leave presents beneath the tree. This year, I have ambitions to be at a bar on New Year’s Eve, instead of staring up a chimney, waiting for a bearded weirdo in a blue suit to give me presents. As a result, this year’s perfunctory familial celebrations have been pushed back to Christmas, when a much more familiar weirdo gave me presents.
On Christmas Eve I sat in my Mother’s living room, surrounded by brightly-colored, tissue-filled gift bags. Santa grinned at me, looming large from one. Frosty the ever-smiling gazed at me from another (although I don’t suppose he has an option… he can’t exactly rearranged those bits of coal in his face to frown, can he?).
I should, reader, have been suspicious.
I was unprepared.
The sweater dress was really nice – the sweater dress, in fact, was one on a list I had emailed to her last month. I like these, I told her. The scarf and the mittens were nice – who doesn’t need a scarf in the cold, anyway?
It was upon opening the third bag that I cringed.
Red and black. And lacy.
She bought me lingerie. A slinky red-and-black teddy and some lacy panties.
“This is…..” I dug for the words. “This is inappropriate.”
I felt like a kindergarten teacher talking to a six-year-old who had just crayoned on the wall.
“This is inappropriate.”
Those were the only words I could find.
“This is really inappropriate.”
What the hell are you supposed to say when your mother buys you lingerie?
The lingerie was followed, as it were, by the not-so-surprising perfume in the Victoria’s Secret bag, which would have been fine on its’ own.
Perfume, I tell myself, is a perfectly good gift.
I refrain from my desire to say, a la Jim Gaffigan, “If I smell bad…. you know you can just tell me, right?”
Because among other things, I know my Mother would tell me.
“You smell bad,” she would say. “Go wash your feet.”
So, theoretically, the perfume is make me smell good, as opposed to fighting any malodor, real or imagined, but combined with the lingerie…. it seems kind of boyfriend-ly.
Actually, I realize in some strange thunderbolt, as far as boyfriends go, my Mom wouldn’t be half-bad, at least in some respects. I mean, she always asks how my day was. And she always calls when she says she will. And she is a pretty good cook.
But realistically speaking, as far as boyfriend-ly things go…. Quite frankly, I would just rather have a boyfriend.
I gaze dolefully down at the red silky thing that has spilled across my lap.
And yes, I know I keep coming back to the lingerie.
I’m 27 and my mother bought me lingerie. For Christmas.
I ask her why, and, looking at me as though this is perfectly normal, she replies, “I wanted you to have something pretty.”
My mother, ladies and gentlemen.
I give her a resigned look and go pour myself a drink.
Merry Messed-Up Christmas, everyone.