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What My Mom Picked Out Is Not What I Wanted for Christmas

Last Christmas, I had pegged my mom for a mind reader. I was really just trying to preserve the Christmas spirit— where you don’t know what’s beneath the wrapping paper (and you still like to pretend Santa is real, a little bit). Plenty of my friends pick out their presents ahead of time and know exactly what will be waiting under the tree. Isn’t that the complete opposite of what Christmas is all about?

I figured that if I gave my mom very explicit instructions on the exact types of gifts I wanted, she would buy gifts that were still a surprise but that were perfect in every way. I didn’t want a crew-neck sweater. Just a V-neck. I wanted jeans that were perfectly tailored to my legs. And I wanted my mom to somehow be able to pick those out (try them on me while I was sleeping, maybe?). I wanted a skirt that hit sixteen thirty-fourths of the way down my thigh. I wanted historical fiction novels—heaven forbid science fiction.

So I made a list. I even added photographs I found on the Internet. And then I waited for Christmas morning.

I guess I believed my mom should know me well enough to buy exactly what I would buy for myself and have these gifts flawlessly wrapped and arranged on Christmas morning. She would channel June Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver because I knew June would buy me the perfect sweater. In my heart of hearts, I probably was aware that reading minds was a tall order—a power only possessed by 1950s housewives—but I somehow believed my mom could pull this off.

Christmas Disappointment: Not What I Wanted

You can probably guess the rest of the story. Christmas morning, supposedly joyful, soon turned slightly nightmarish. The first horribly wrong sweater wasn’t too upsetting. “The rest will be perfect!” I told myself. But it soon became clear that my mom had raided Cher Horowitz’s closet in picking out my gifts (you know, the main character in Clueless, which came out in 1995).

I was disappointed, and I couldn’t hide it. How could my mom blow it so completely? Did she not know me at all? We both felt badly.

I don’t want to bash my mother and, in hindsight, I know she really tried with the sweaters and jeans and such. Realistically, they never could have been exactly what I wanted. So this year, I’m giving up. My mom and I plan to get everything at the mall before Christmas morning. Sigh.

Nora Smith wrote this as a junior in high school.

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