I am terrible when it comes to buying presents for people.
This counts both for Christmas and birthdays. If I don't know straight away a brilliant gift that I am going to get you, then you can be sure you are going to be getting something unpersonal and bought at the last minute.
Something I absolutely hate if I don't know what to get someone, is when I ask them what they want and they answer with "I don't know" or "you don't have to get me anything".
Of course I do!
I know perfectly well that you will be waiting for a gift from me on that specific day and you will wonder what I've got you and you will be extremely disappointed if I don't give you anything at all except a pat on the back and a "Happy Birthday!".
I know this by horrible experiences.
One time I didn't get one of my friends anything because they had told me not to. It was just going to be a small gathering. Nothing big or anything. But when I arrived empty handed and merely gave a hug and a singy songy "Happy Birthday!", I could see the look of disappointment flicker behind his eyes momentarily when he realized that there was no present in my hands.
So I panicked for a few seconds in utter guilt, I mean, what kind of a friend was I? Had I not remembered the protocol of polite Swedes?
We say we don't need anything and that it is perfectly alright but we don't mean it! We never do. You have to read the underlining in these events. If someone says "I don't know" it actually means "surprise me" and "you don't have to get me anything" should be subtitled with "I don't expect something big but I do expect a little something".
So I ended up with actually riding on the suspense and disappointment he was clearly showing, and then saying 'Ha! Got you! Actually I'm going to let you choose a film and we'll go see it at the cinema. My treat.' He lit up with a smile and said 'Thank you'. I had saved the day.
That is always my go to plan.
If I really can't come up with something or if I, to be honest, forget to buy something, I quickly scribble on a card that I'll treat them to the cinema. It is a brilliant plan. They get to choose something they actually want and I get to stall a bit since we clearly won't go to the cinema straight away.
I am a genius. I should get pre-written cards to the cinema for everyone. But eventually they would get suspicious if all my friends suddenly got the same gift. And what if they all decide we should go to the cinema on the same day? I'd have to buy tickets for a lot of people then. You know what, let's skip that plan.
The people I know the best are the ones who can always expect to get something I know they will like or, as the case is more often, something regarding an inside joke between the two of us. The ones that usually get presents like these are my dad, my girlfriend and Fie.
For Fie's birthday this year (2011) I bought her a play set with the characters from the Disney film "Tangled". This may seem strange given that we are both over the age of 3-10 that the box indicated was the age group which would have the most joy out of it. But those age "rules" are for breaking! And we both had a rather joyfull time playing with them later on, ignoring the looks we received from some other friends.
For this years Christmas I had planed everything perfectly. I was going to buy gifts for the people on my list in London. It was brilliant because I could almost buy anything and then when they open it and half heartedly go 'Thank you' I could say 'It's from London!' which would bring up the gifts level with at least 10 points because that way it seems to the people receiving the gift that I went through all the trouble when I was on a holiday to think of them and buy something.
But as I noticed on my last day in the UK, I had, as usual, completely forgotten about my gift list in the tumults of friends, musicals and dinners. All I had managed to buy was a Top Gear dvd for my dad and two leather note books for my older brother.
This also meant that when I got back home, I would hardly have any money left because it had all been spent.
I had a small panic attack on the airplane home which the woman next to me thought was caused by a fear of flying.
'It's alright. We're not going to crash, dear.' She leaned over and told me.
'I know' I said calmly. 'There are more car crashes every year than airplane ones.'
'Well that's good then, eh? Is this your first time flying?' She asked.
I laughed at her because I did not understand why she was asking me that. Maybe she was afraid of flying? And she needed to be in control or tell herself that everything was going to be alright and there for decided that I should be afraid as well. What a strange lady.
'No.' I told her. 'Maybe this month. 10th time if you count all year.'
'Oh' was what she said and for a long time she looked at me extremely confused. I thought I had made her uncomfortable and as the polite person I am I could not have that on my conscience.
'What would you want from me for Christmas.' I asked her and smiled. If anything I made her even more confused and she simply looked at me funny and then shook her head and turned to look out the window.
As I thought about what I'd just said I realized that I should probably have added 'If you where my mum 'cause I have no idea what to give her'.
But at least I was then left alone to continue pondering on my money and gifts problem.
When I was home I looked at my bank account and saw that I would get my paycheck on the 23rd. Which meant I had that day to buy, well, everything. When all the people stuck in the Christmas rush and forgotten presents would be out running around town in panic. Great. Well, there was nothing to be done about it was there? At least my relatives and friends would get gifts, doesn't matter when I bought them.
On the 22nd I woke up by the phone singing "God rest ye merry gentlemen" which is what I had been doing until it had rang.
'Hey, it's me.' I heard my brothers dark voice say.
'Yeah, and?' I grumpily answered. The bastard. It was only 9 o'clock. Who's up at this hour?
'Listen, I'll be working until the morning of the 24th so I need you to put my name on your presents to the others.' He said, ignoring my grumbles of disapproval.
'I haven't gotten anyone anything yet.' I told him.
'What? How slow are you?'
'Says the man whom hasn't bought anything either.'
'Touché. But still, if I give you some money, can you buy something to the relatives and mum and dad?'
I gave a heavy sigh. Though I shouldn't complain. This is how me and my brother work during this time of year. One of us buy something, the other helps pay for it and there by gets their name on it. It just so happens that this year the responsibility and creativity of coming up with the gifts had landed on me.
'Fine. I'll do it tomorrow.' And we hung up.
Damn, now I had even more stones hanging on my shoulders to get good gifts. It was not only me they would be disappointed in if they got something they hated, my brother would be falling down the whole with me as well.
So I called my mum.
'Mum, what should I buy grandma and granddad for Christmas?' I asked her.
'Oh, how about you buy grandma one of those herb scissors I found for 80kr-'
'I'm gonna stop you right there. I have no time to buy individually. Couples will get a joint present.' I said scribbling on my gift list. 'Doesn't matter, I'll get them wine or something. They like wine.'
And that is what I decided for most of the relatives on mum's side. No, they are not alcoholics, they simply enjoy good wine, whiskey and any other nice spirits.
Since I know absolutely nothing about spirits and wine I brought my dad along on the 23rd to the liquor store.
As he walked around looking at the labels, I walked around looking at the bottles.
'Hey, this bottle looks cool.' I said pointing at a blue squiggly one.
'No. It is to sweet and not dry enough.' He inspected on the label.
'A wine can be to sweet? But wine is not sweet. It's
not nice tasting.'
My dad sighed and walked on, ignoring me whenever I yelled that I found a cool looking bottle.
In the end I had found what I needed and got some fantsy chocolate for the rest of the family that does not like wine or whiskey. Which is one. Me.
And my Christmas presents where saved! I was joyful and proud of myself the whole way home. I had finished buying all of the gifts. It doesn't matter that it was done the day before, I had actually done it. And it felt good. No more panicking.
Or at least that's what I thought. Until I got home and saw that nothing was wrapped.
I texted my girlfriend.
'Do Christmas presents have to be wrapped?' I asked her.
'Yes dear, it is nice when they are.' She answers.
'Damn. Well what's wrong with a plastic bag? It's the inside that counts, isn't it? That's what they say about humans, so why not about presents?' I complain.
'Because things around Christmas are supposed to look nice and welcoming. A plastic bag does not.' And so I had to start wrapping everything.
Saying that I am a bad present wrapper is an understatement. I am an absolutely terrible one. I honestly rap better then I wrap. If people don't wrap it for me in the stores, then I simply give it to the one receiving it in a plastic bag or two. But now I had to actually do it myself which meant I needed Christmas paper, a scissor and tape. Lot's of it.
How was it now? You're supposed to cut the paper a lot bigger than the gift it self and then you sort of fold it over it all and on the short ends you make a triangle and then fold it up over the other parts and put some tape on that? Well that doesn't sound so difficult. I mean, how hard can it be?
Pretty hard, as it turns out. I think i managed to make at least one of them look decent enough. The others I got to much paper on and there for my triangles on the short end became to full of paper and even bigger than the other parts and took over the whole present.
Not to mention all the tape I used. The paper managed to break in some bits so I put tape over the broken parts and then to make sure no other paper broke I put tape over the whole present. Just to be safe. We can make it a sport. See who manages to unwrap my gifts first. You'd need a crowbar.
At least they where wrapped!
If anyone complains I'll say they did it in the store.