Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas presents and the people who give them

What people buy you for Christmas can sometimes tell you more about them than it does about you.

I, for instance, frequently insist on buying people books that I love, in the belief I can convert them to my cause, instead of actually buying them something that, you know, they would like.

Not only am I an egocentric bint but, presumably, I also hope that by giving someone a copy of, say The Great Gatsby, (which I love) they’ll be lulled into the belief that I’m a literate intellectual who spends me spare time talking about... I don't know, something more intellectual than mocking Ashley Simpson's ad for Skechers (but seriously - I mean, I also love America's Next Top Model ("I have never talked to a girl this way!") but I don't go around handing out dvds of that little beauty.

I have also, in the past, crafted festive mix CDs for The-Boy-I-Liked-at-the-Time with incredible precision, convinced he would understand how I felt as soon as Track 3 kicked in.

Clearly I am also deluded.

And by this kind of logic I think my Aunt might be clinically insane.

Most families seem to have an oddball in their family. In ours we have several, including the Uncle Voted Most Likely to Molest a Niece and the Weird English Ones Who Never Ask You a Question About Yourself But Will Happily Tell You All About Their Neighbours’ Business. But at Christmas time it’s an opportunity to pull together, reflect and remember… the Aunt Who Buys Crazy-Arse Gifts.

Suspicions over my Aunt’s mental state were first aroused when my older brother was about 14 or so. He was pretty small for his age, smart, into fantasy books and, presumably, interested in girls.

So, naturally enough, for Christmas that year my Aunt bought him a wig.

A ladies wig.

An old ladies wig. It was brown, curly and scratchy. Seriously, dude, he could have bluffed his way into a nursing home with that thing perched on his noggin.

This was only the beginning. A few years later I was the recipient of a giant box of chocolates from said Aunt, while my brother got… a piece of soap.


So you might think she just doesn’t like my brother, right? You couldn’t be more wrong: these early years were only the beginning.The intervening years have been a parade of presents, from the bat-shit crazy to the hysterical-laughter-inducting variety, highlights of which included a soap on a rope and (for myself) a… body stocking. Awesome.

The weird thing is that, at 60-something, my aunt is completely switched on and fantastic. She’s smart, has a wicked sense of humour, still wears black eye-liner every day and can talk to you about anything.

So what do the presents that she gives say about her? That she has retained a sense of whimsy? That she's bi-polar? Perhaps that she actually thinks soap on a rope is a great invention?

Actually I have no idea what any of it means, really - I just wanted to mention the wig story because that shit still makes me laugh.

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