I’ve been poor for nearly a decade by sticking around in a dead end job that refused to pay me a reasonable, living wage. I am even less financially solvent now that I am unemployed, yet somehow, not by all that much, only a few hundred a month. Still, I don’t have enough money to buy gifts, which is really a long, convoluted way to say that I expect to get no gifts in return. The concept of a “wish list” went out when I realized that old Saint Nick was actually my mom through a methodical handwriting analysis around the age of five.
Even when I wasn’t poor, I didn’t really do gifts in the traditional sense. My attitude has always been that if I see something that I think someone should have, I buy it for them right then, regardless of any arbitrary date on the calendar that says it’s appropriate to do so. I’m an instant gratification kind of girl. So, when Xmas or birthdays roll around, I don’t buy gifts since most everyone got their Christmas present in July or whenever I found that awesome gift that just screamed their name. Nowadays, all I can do is put gifts I’d like to buy for people on a list for whenever the day comes that I have money again.
Because I don’t buy Xmas or birthday gifts for anyone, I expect nothing in return. I don’t mean that in a passive aggressive, “I don’t need anything” kind of way. I mean that I never expect gifts. When I get one, it baffles me. I’m always mildly apologetic that I have nothing to give in return, but the people who buy me gifts never expect anything. They do it out if the kindness of their hearts or because they saw something that had my name on it.
Some of my friends are in the same spirit of gifts as me where they buy me little things that they think I would like regardless of the time of year. Some of them are still bogged down with this whole “must buy something for everyone because it’s December” frame of mind. They expect nothing in return, because they all know the score, yet it still makes me feel mildly awkward whenever I’m handed something in Santa Claus wrapping paper. It makes me feel like a failure as a human being because I can’t afford to buy anything for those I love.
Sadly, I’m not the crafty type. I’m not creative enough in an arts and crafts sense to hand-make gifts for everyone I know. I have made gifts for certain people, but I can’t really do the assembly line thing. Some of my friends have given me paintings or sculptures or even homemade bread made with their own two hands as gifts. Those are the kind of gifts that mean the most to me.
I have some black sand in a little bottle that will always remind me of a certain friend and a certain summer given to me by that friend. I still have a dryer sheet twisted into the shape of an angel that my ex boyfriend made me as protection for when he wasn’t around after he saw the bruises on my body. I have a femur from an anatomically correct skeleton given to me by a friend. It’s not real bone; it’s plastic or whatever it is that they make skeletons out of. He has the other; we can only walk together. I have a single old-fashioned, cowboy spur given to me by another friend. He has the other; we can only ride and make noise together. These are the kinds of gifts that mean the most to me; they are the kind of gifts that immediately remind me of the bearer, not some sweater from the Gap given to me as an afterthought because it happens to be an arbitrary date on the calendar.
So, do I have a gift wish list? Not at all. My wish is that I will find a job eventually so that I can again purchase things that make my friends happy and remind them of me whenever they see them. My wish is that I will continue to be important in the lives of those that I love and that they will continue to give me femurs and dryer sheet angels. That’s the most that I could ever ask and the best present anyone could get.