If you had have stumbled into our home for the Christmas of 2006, you would have left quite quickly.
Actually, you would have run for your life.
The Christmas of 2006 was the year my mother was gifted a slow cooker by my step-dad, Murray.
However, for those who have gotten in the habit of buying a new vacuum cleaner or set of mixing bowls as a gift, and they’re a tad confused about what the problem is, let me explain.
Just because the vacuum cleaner is broken and your mother/wife/daughter/sister/other human is the main one who uses it, does not mean they want it as a gift.
Just because any of those said people above have complained that the mixing bowls are old and we need new ones, does not mean they want it as a gift.
And, as Murray found out, just because my mum’s friend brought up this “slow cooker thing” in a conversation, did not mean she wanted it as a gift.
“But, you said it would make life easier when you’re running late!” Murray cried.
“Not the point,” mum retorted, “Making dinner for you is a job. Not a present…I need a drink.”
Throwback to 2007 Christmas. My mum, in reading this article, would like to note I always put effort into her gifts.
You would think that after such a poor Christmas present in '06, Murray may have stepped up the next year. Not the case.
It sounds like a first world, middle-class family problem to get bad gifts. I 100% acknowledge that, and it perplexed me for many years why mum would get so upset about the presents she got.
Not too long ago, I realised it was her love language. She would spend all year noting down even the most off-handed comments about things we like, and then they would turn up under our Christmas tree. Her thought, effort, and love is something I have seen nobody else do.
That's why the hurt was only amplified when people couldn't even try to think of a good gift. The crappy recipe book subscription that my brother bought on Christmas Eve for mum showed how much he cared.
Want to buy some passive agressive Christmas presents? Listen here. (Post continues after audio.)
How was it fair that she would spend hours agonising over gifts, have them wrapped so beautifully, and she ended up with a Millers scarf, the 'BARGAIN' tag still attached?
So. In 2015, my mum brought this farce of present giving to an end.
She was done with her kitchen appliances, she was done with constantly having to fake her glee at a crappy gift, she was done with then having to apologise that she only pretended to like said gift, and she was done with Christmas then descending into a day of passive aggressive comments while eating lunch.
Introducing the Wendy (that's mum's name) Christmas Present Revolution.
Here's how it goes:
- Buying gifts for other people ceases. Immediately. You do not pass go and you do not collect slow cooker. Move on to step 2.
- Instead of buying presents for other people, you now buy the present(s) for yourself.
- The present(s) that you buy for yourself must be what you would spend on others (I'll explain that later).
- All present(s) must remain a surprise.
'06 Christmas. Note my Birkenstocks before they became cool again.
Optional add-on for the Wendy Christmas Present Revolution:
- Introduce the "family gift".
- The "family gift" is something that every person buys that the whole family can take part in.
- Every year the family gift is themed, so in 2015 it was board games (because we're one of those families), this year it is Secret Santa to buy a costume for another family member (ie, if I had my sister I would buy her a High School Musical outfit because she is obsessed).
I know you may be shocked at the revolution (most revolutions are). I have had a number of colleagues and friends demanding to know how this works.
Question One: But, don't you miss the surprise?
No. Everyone in our family actually gets a real kick out of seeing what everyone else has bought themselves. It's like, 'OHHHH, this is what you wanted your whole life.'
Plus, I no longer have to save up my, "Oh, I loooove this. I'm just going to put it at the back of my cupboard where it will never see the day of light" face.
If you so choose to engage the "Family Gift" option, there is a surprise there.
This is what I bought myself in the very first year. Totally stoked.
Question Two: Who pays for what?
As I said earlier, you pay for your own gift. The first year, mum instituted the rule that you could only spend the amount of money you spent on others in previous years.
This was a very important lesson for my brother, who always was given the most gifts but managed to split $25 between four people.
Christmas of 2015 was a revealing one for him.
I do understand that such a method is not necessarily practical for families with young children. But I reckon by the time they're at least 12, which is when I was saving every single penny of my pocket money, you're good to go.
Question Three: Do you wrap the gifts and surprise people?
I mean, it's not necessary but wrapping gifts is one of my favourite pastimes.
Mum and I earlier this year. We're best buds.
Question Four: But, isn't it the thought that counts?
Yes, it is. So that's why we started this revolution to begin with because mum has 99% of the thoughts and the other 1% was left to my brother and step-dad thinking, "Shit, what are we getting?"
Now, after decades of getting really, really bad gifts, mum can finally care about her. First and foremost.
If there is anything I swear by in my life, it is the Wendy Christmas Present Revolution (geez, this is sounding like an infomercial).
And, Wendy is now buying herself diamonds. Like she should.