Friday, June 15, 2007

It's The Thought That Counts

I've been blogging a lot this week. I just haven't posted anything. I have a rule for myself that is not to blog angry (or really sad or unhappy or any extreme Eeyore type mood). But it just seems like lately there is so much conflict in my little world. There's all this yuck in the PCA. There was a huge misunderstanding and hurt feelings all around going on on another blog. There is the ever exhausting task that is trying to gather up Father's Day cards and gifts and ship them off to their proper destinations. And several other things. I have been just outright down. And homesick too. And busier than I probably needed to be. So I think it's mostly over. And tomorrow George and I will have our first date in over a month. Woohoo! So I'm back.

Today I nearly finished the whole Father's Day fiasco. I have managed to avoid both Mother's Day and Father's Day for our parents every year since we have been married. Except for cards. I always send cards. But even that is exhausting enough. "You've always been there..." Nope. "You taught me..." Nope. "You always know how to make me feel..." Unless it says "like crap" afterward, nope! But this year I got it in my head to do something nice for Mother's Day. And you can't do something nice for Mother's Day without doing something nice for Father's Day. And you can't do something nice one year and nothing the next. So I have officially committed myself to superfulous giftgiving for a "Halmark holiday" from now on. So we went to the outlet mall. It was the first day in a while that I have taken all three kids with me somewhere by myself. I guess I had gotten spoiled running errands while Amabel was at school or when George was working on the property and could keep tabs on the older kids. But it went okay. There is a Cabela's store at the outlet mall with huge walk through aquariums in the back stocked full of fish. This is quite the attraction. In the front of the store there is a large aquarium with alligator snapping turtles in it. I never even heard of these until I saw them at this Cabela's. See how it has an alligator tail? It is bizarre. Anyway, I went ahead and found my dad a gift at the Cabela's store while I was there. My parents are the most difficult people in the world to shop for. Not only do we just have a pretty severely dysfunctional relationship, but they have always treated gift giving like running people's errands for them- "Well, your dad needs a new belt. He only likes the kind with gold buckles and only one leather loop holder, not two." (try to shop for belts with those specifications; it is harder than you think!) or "I think he said something about a new hose. Oh, but your sister is getting him that. How about a sprinkler to go with it?" Seriously? Seriously. I don't want to get him a hose or a sprinkler or a belt or a package of socks! What is fun about any of those things? And where is the creativity or thoughtfulness? I mean, we all do it. I did get him the belt for his birthday. And my sister really did get him a hose. And she mailed it to him from New Jersey! So I have decided I am going to hone in on some traditions that require slight thoughtfulness and creativity each year without involving all kinds of racking my brain and emotional drain. Yes, it is emotionally draining. It just reminds me how stressed the relationship is. At any point I could walk into any store and pick out something for my best friend or husband or sister or child. Not so with my dad. So far from being the case that it is just exhausting trying to think of something. And I go through all the pain of rejection when he doesn't like it or makes a comment or says nothing or my mom shoots it down before he's even opened it. I will spend way more than I normally would because I know this is the thing and he will finally like my gift to him. But no matter what it is, he always says "that's real nice" in this sort of baby talk kind of way. One year I ran out of boxes and had to use a microwave popcorn box to wrap his gift in. I told my mom and my sister to make sure he knew to open the box. Well, they both forgot and he thought it really was microwave popcorn. He was surprisingly grateful for a box of microwave popcorn on Christmas morning whilst everyone else received gifts ten times nicer. When he thanked me over the phone for the popcorn I was stunned! I told him there was something else inside. And the crazy thing was, when he opened the gift, the gift I knew he would just love, I got that same "that's real nice" and it was almost as if he would have rather had the popcorn! Anyway, it's hard to explain; it just reopens old wounds.

So I have decided to find something moderately pleasing and run the idea into the ground for the next thirty years. Starting this year. It was going to be popcorn (right, because of the accolades the box received last time) but I made the mistake of running it by my mother. So popcorn alone became its own exhausting topic for about a week until I just decided no to popcorn altogether and picked something new.Tee shirts. They're universal. Everyone wears tee shirts. I have even seen my dad wear tee shirts, and clearly he is very selective about what he will wear. So I got him a fishing tee shirt today. He loves to fish. Except when he has just come home from fishing. Every time he comes home from fishing he says he is not going again. But the next thing you know, he is taking off work and missing someone's birthday party to go fishing. So he really does like it I think. Anyway, he gets a fishing tee shirt for Father's Day. I didn't tell my mom. Because the Cabela's store is too far and Father's Day is too close to turn back which I am sure she would tell me to do. He's getting the tee shirt! And if he doesn't obviously not like it, which he probably will but maybe not because it's a tee shirt but for some other reason like that he doesn't like the happy face life is good guy (I believe Jake is his name. Or is that the dog?), then I will get him another tee shirt next year. And on and on it will go. I know, I'm a genius. Well, I'm a genius until Monday, because he won't get it in time for Sunday, when he gets it and hates it. But for now, I'm a genius. I have struck gold.

And I also struck gold with the kids with this Cabela's store. You should go. They feed the fish at 1:00pm, at least one tank a day. The tanks are floor to ceiling all side by side to make a tunnel o' tanks if you will. The fish go crazy for the food. It is lots of fun. There are also lots of stuffed dead animals everywhere. And kids love that. Oh, and don't forget the turtles. They mostly just sit there, but they are very cool looking.

Well, this is not at all what this post started out to be. But you know, this is such a huge part of me- the struggle to work toward honoring my parents and toward healing in relationships where the other person/people involved is not really moving toward me in very helpful ways. That's not completely fair- I have other people that I struggle with this very thing over that are not my parents, people who have hurt me deeply and when I talked to them about it said outright "I'm not going to apologize for that." So I don't put that all on the relationship I have with my parents. I also don't want to imply that the relationship I have with them is all bad. They are very generous toward me. We could not be here in school and living like we are were it not for their generosity to us. And I am hugely grateful for that! But you know, it's a struggle. And I guess everyone can identify with that on some level. I talked about letting love cover over things with in laws and I think that's true in any relationship. I think it's even easier in some senses with your own parents because they're the ones who took you to Disney World and took you out for ice cream and took your picture on your birthday. You don't have that with in laws so if things are bad, there's not really a "happy place" to go to to refocus on the good. Anyway, I'm a work in progress and so are my parents. I know that and I'm working on it- one tee shirt (cross your fingers!) at a time!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

HA HA HA!! I needed a good laugh...what a fun read! One tee shirt at a time sounds really promising! The turtle is pretty cool and kinda creepy looking. I hope your date is enjoyable! Hurray that we don't have to worry about presents for parents until December! Although, you struck gold if the tee shirt goes over well! Hope he likes the HOSE :)!! Love you. Sarah

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