Countdown to Christmas… How To Wrap Gifts

I hate the holidays.

I mean, I think we’ve established that I hate pretty much everything. And everyone. And myself.

But I really fucking hate the holidays.

Some of you may or may not have been around here long enough to know all the fun details of my relationship with my mother. In a nutshell: it’s dysfunctional. It’s mom abandoned dad and I when I was only 10 to move across the country and have an elicit affair with a married man, which turned into 20+ years of bad relationships, childhood traumas, and other assorted maladies.

What is making this holiday season particularly horrid is that my mother is around. Her new husband lives in New Mexico, so I’m not sure why she is here. To compound things, I didn’t ask her to help plan my daughter’s birthday party, so she was a bitch to everyone there (for which I had to spend the entire following day making apologetic phone calls); then today she screamed at me about how this was the equivalent to me stabbing her in the back with a knife, and destroying her sense of place in the world. And by the way how dare you go shopping for Christmas gifts with your mother in law so she gets what you guys actually need, instead of shit that will just get wasted or donated. And my God you are such a bitch why aren’t you buying me more dinners and inviting me over for more free lunches, and what the fuck with your not coming to visit me two or three times a week to play puzzles and color with grandma.

Other. Assorted. Maladies.

This is making me really fucking hate the holidays even more so than usual. It’s adding another layer of shit to my plate that I don’t want to deal with, and quite frankly – after 20+ years of this shit – I’ve essentially had it.

It’s very complicated.

In any event, I am counting down to Christmas. In a big way, because (obviously) I just want the damn holiday to be over with.

This year Thanksgiving and Christmas were closer in days to each other than they have been in years. Decades maybe – what the fuck do I know on the length of time it’s been since the two holidays ran this closely together. I just know that’s the case because (a) my mother in law told me so, and (b) it seems like Thanksgiving was just over a week ago, because it was.

This compacted time, along with compounded stress, means even more fuck it all I hate my life God why are you doing this to me-feelings are rising to the surface.

Are any of you feeling the same way?

So this is how I wrap gifts.

(Sound insane, I know.)

First I take all the bullshit that my mother, and other assorted family or friends throw at me, and I crumple it up and shove it in a bag. A gift bag of anger and hostility, you might say. Then I cram as much of the stress and the strain and the holiday nonsense bullshit bake cookies decorate a tree clean for relatives fuck this I’m getting drunk and wrap it in paper with a pretty bow.

What I’m saying is that I take out my aggression on two, maybe three, nicely wrapped gifts. You can tell I’m extra stressed out if I do shit like make my own wrapping (which I did this year).

This looks so pretty because all my rage and hostility and crazy is being channeled into something – GASP – productive (versus my usual channeling, which involves alcohol, cupcakes, and Netflix).

After a couple of nicely wrapped gifts, I take a break to eat lunch. By that I mean emotionally eat.

Does anyone remember that scene in the beginning of The Bell Jar when she’s sort of losing it and she cracks an egg into a bowl of raw red meat and stirs it up and eats it? Because she’s suicidal, so why the fuck not?

When I took my break from this pristine wrapping today, I ate three turkey and cheese sandwiches. And I thought it would be just yummy to cover them in red pepper.

Not sure why. Made me think of that scene from The Bell Jar, minus the suicidal tendency.

At this point in the game, my channeling of anger has all been spent and I then turn to letting go of all life’s stressors through gift wrap. Because none of this really is in my control – holiday stress, family problems, psychotic and likely histrionic mother hellbent on giving me an ulcer… these are not things I can control.

So I let go. I let go of being so upset. I let go of being stressed out. I let go of feeling the expectations weighing down on me like an anchor attached to the very top of my skull.

(This isn’t entirely true, I don’t let go of anything I just symbolically do it through gift wrap.)

And I no longer give a fuck about the way the wrapping appears.

I mean I really really no longer give a fuck. Here are two gems from this evening.

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And then, by the time it’s all over and the last CVS bag has been adorned with bows (because fuck you, I ran out of paper and fancy bags)…I feel better.

I don’t really feel better. I do, however, have everything wrapped and ready to go under the tree.

Countdown to Christmas. There’s like a week or some shit left. Are you ready? Show me your worst wrapping job…it may be featured in the next step of this most horrific of countdowns.

Sadly, I can no longer go to my local FedEx Kinkos

I’m thinking about getting a map of a fifty mile radius around my home and tacking it up on the wall, then placing pins in all the places I can no longer go. On the map would be the big Ventura post office, for I would be horrified to experience that whole ‘lady and her bizarre flatus‘ thing again. I don’t go to the Starbucks near the Barnes and Noble because a guy I dated works there, and I’d rather not deal with that. Needless to say, I find a lot of sort of stupid reasons not to go to some places around me, and then sometimes I find myself making such a fool out of things that I would rather not return for fear of more humiliation. Today was one of those days.

Although, to be fair, it was really my 69 year old father that added the Ventura FedEx Kinkos to the list of places I can no longer go to.

Let me back it up a bit. You all remember I declared myself on a vacation from life, so to speak, in preparation of my three week, cross-country trip home for the first time in over a decade. Of course, when I say “home” I mean Chicago – I have never and will not consider California to be welcoming enough to call “home.” Both feeling a little homesick, my father and I decided to take this trip together in spite of all the family vacations that turned complete disaster when I was little. So we are only a few days away from departing on what is sure to be an exciting, educational, and likely insane cross-country trip.

The world travelers, years before our current traveling madness.

Because we are traveling as light as possible, though, we ended up having to ship out the majority of our clothing for the time we will be in the Chicagoland area. This really seemed like the easiest and most logical decision, particularly because in addition to clothing we had an assload of souvenirs to take back for friends and family.

So flash forward to today and my 69 year old father in desperate need of a hip replacement decided it was the day that we must take our packed clothes and souvenirs to FedEx to ship. Enter the triad of actions that made it such that I can no longer go to my local FedEx Kinkos:

Incident One: Dad took FedEx employee liberties

So we walked into the store and it was a combination of the Kinkos copy shop and the FedEx shipping center. Behind the counter there were a variety of dollies and rollers that can be used for unloading and loading boxes, and there were two employees working. Rather than ask one of the readily available employees, though, my father just stalked behind the counter as if he works there and took a dolly. I started laughing, the employees started laughing, my dad muttered “whatever” and walked out to the car to load our boxes onto the dolly.

Incident Two: Dad dropped the f-bomb

I handed all the paperwork over to the woman working behind the counter and apologized for my father taking employee liberties, and she giggled and began to input all the information into her computer, and asked me the usual questions about what is being shipped, how we want to ship it all, etc. As we were finishing off all the input of the paperwork, my dad stalked back in with the loaded dolly, looking like he was going to fall over. Remember that I mentioned a few paragraphs up that he is in desperate need of a complete hip replacement – an operation he vehemently opposes. So he was hobbling a little and I was of course wondering why he wouldn’t just let me handle the dolly to begin with (we won’t go there), and he walked up to the counter and said loudly “Jesus, it’s like I’m a fucking stevedore.” Enter more Heather-employee laughter.

Incident Three: Dad announced for the entire Kinkos and FedEx to hear that we are not transporting any illegal goods

For absolutely no reason at all, my father then proceeded to announce loudly to the entire store that we were not transporting any illegal goods. I have no idea why, but for weeks prior he was worried that we were going to get in trouble for shipping California souvenirs to other states, or for sending so many boxes at one time (he said it may seem suspicious). I think my dad has been watching too many Columbo mysteries on television or something, because his paranoia seemed a little odd and out of place. In any event, he felt it necessary to announce loudly that nothing was being shipped illegally, in essence heightening the humiliation factor to a level that was beyond my own level of tolerance. I have a pretty high threshold, but this was just too much. So I said I’d wait in the car and left, laughing and simultaneously covering my shame in the process.

My father is quite clearly just as crazy as I am. When he came out he informed me that his devastating charm secured a smooth shipping of the packages. I’m sure that was it, dad.

You faithful blog followers can now begin betting on what bizarre happenings will take place on this trip. With the whole-family dynamic in place who in God’s name knows what will go down. This FedEx Kinkos incident was only the beginning.