Never Look a Gift Ho’ in The Mouth.

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At this time of year, I get present tense.

 

I’m more of a drive-by shopper. I get in and get out. I don’t linger. Whereas my cousin Francine browses. Ruminates over everything. She starts collecting next year’s gifts the day after Christmas. When I say “stuff,” I mean “twee,” which is a British word that means “junk” (with a British accent, it sounds better). A few examples of twee? Frilly potpourri angels. Ring holders shaped like high heels. Potato chip bag clips decorated with rhinestones.

When you open twee, two questions automatically pop into your head: How long do I have to keep it before I can re-gift? and What category of recycling would it go into at the dump?

 For a while, we bought gifts for everybody. But we’re a very fertile family, so it became too expensive. Then we started drawing names. Some people started complaining about the names they drew. And by “some people,” I mean me. For five years running, I got Francine’s name. I got her a hot-water bottle. Nymph Glands for your Lymph Glands. She already had one. Another time, I bought her a star. Not a twee star, but a high-in-the-sky star, one I could name after her. It came with a certificate, like a Cabbage Patch doll and at about the same price.

Then stocking stuffers was Francine’s next bright idea. We all got a stocking full of small things. I suggested leaving the credit card bill in so people would know you spent double the amount that you would have on a really good gift.

Next, Francine introduced the game where could steal each others gifts. You know, the one where you unwrap the present and then the next person in line can take it away from you? Now there’s a game for people with childhood issues. Inevitably, we’d all be teleported back to 1966 when Cousin Jack stole my Malibu Barbie. He had said Santa wanted him to have the doll and me to have the western log house. I should have let sleeping logs lie, because when we were playing the game last year I pointed out that stealing gifts might not be in the spirit of the holidays, causing Jack to leave in a huff. At least I got to keep the napkins he had his eye on.

 

Finally, we did something sensible. We agreed that Francine and I would do what we do best. She could go to the States for a day of shopping and I could go online for a day of Googling. It was exhaust- ing, typing in that expiry date over and over again, but I stuck with it until my little fingers were about to fall off.
Afterwards, we got together and shared a cup of holiday cheer. A little eggnog and Red Bull to keep us awake while we figured out how much we owed each other. “Now, you bought the Wii game so I owe you $46.98, which is in American money. What is the dollar worth today? And the Mamma Mia! tickets were $138.50, so that makes it $13.25 less I owe you, but did you get the gluten-free shortbread from the Celiacs‘R’Us website?”

In the middle of all the commotion, Francine handed me a card.
“I know we said we wouldn’t get each other anything, but I saw it and thought of you. It’s a gift certificate for a goat.”
“You got me a goat?” That really got my goat.
“Not for you. It’s for a family in a developing country. They get the goat and it helps feed them for a year.”
“Wow.” “Do you hate it? I’m sorry. I can take it back.” “You can’t give people a goat and then take it back. It’s not the
stealing game!” “I mean I have a gift receipt.” “No, Francine. I love it. It’s the best gift you’ve ever given me.” “Really?” “Honestly, it’s perfect.” And I did mean it. In fact, I could feel my
heart growing twee sizes that day. Then a bell rang. Was it the fairy-wing wind chime she had given
me last year? No. The festive cookies I’d squeezed out of a package were done baking. As I watched Francine chew and spit and sputter green dye and icing sugar in my general direction, I realized the old adage is true: You should never look a gift whore in the mouth.

(excerpt from That Which Doesn’t Kill you. To purchase:
http://kimmett.ca/products/that-which-doesnt-kill-you-makes-you-funnier-2/

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