"When I was 12, my mom surprised me with an interview and application for a private school, thinking I would be thrilled. She and my grandmother had paid for it. I hated school, I couldn't and still can't stand the busy work (if I could get graded on four tests a year, I'd be golden), but she thought I'd be super excited to leave my friends and family to go off to a school run by Quakers. I failed the interview spectacularly because I obviously had no interest in trying really hard in school, upholding Quaker values, doing boatloads of volunteer work, or even being there, getting interviewed. My mom yelled at me the whole way home for not trying hard enough, not having an interview plan, and for misleading her by pretending to be interested.
When I was 14, my mother got me hundreds of dollars of matting and framing equipment. I had never shown even the vaguest interest in this and had no idea what to do with it. Turns out she wanted me to mat and frame all of my brother's artwork, and getting me this stuff was cheaper than paying somebody to do it all.
When I was 15, my stepdad used my money to buy me an old Volkswagen bus. It was a rusty piece of garbage that didn't run. It got towed home and stuck in one of our two garage bays, where he expected me to work on cleaning it (buffing and grinding out rust, then sealing and painting) and repairing it (mind you it didn't run at all), despite the fact that I had no experience, and no tools (he would let me use very few of his), and he wouldn't offer any help or instruction. I also didn't have a job, and nobody wanted to drive me out of the sticks into town for the only job I could get. After two months of it sitting there, with next to nothing to show for it except a little rust removal and sliced up hands, he sold it and kept the money because he was tired of having it in his garage. I'd never asked for any kind of transportation.
Now I'm 21. This past Christmas, I showed up because it was my first Christmas after entirely leaving their support, getting my own apartment, job, and all that. I figured I owed them one last family event and if it was as crappy as all the others, I could justify not coming anymore. My mom had promised a big dinner and lots of family and friends over and told me to show up early. I showed up at 8 am, all the lights were off and I had to jimmy the latch like I was 16 and they forgot I was out again. I waited in the living room until 11, when they finally woke up. Everybody was surprised to see me there despite the fact that I said several times that I would show up. There was no food of any sort made, no friends of the family were invited either. My brother and stepdad immediately started poking fun at me. I stayed and hung out while presents were opened and I didn't really expect much, maybe a little box of chocolates because my mom always liked to get those for us. So I was surprised and pleased when she told my brother to go get my present. He ran off and comes back with an unwrapped, beaten, motor oil-stained box of used and broken cutlery. In comparison, my brother got a tablet, a pickup, mixer, and an amp for his violin. My mom got a new appliance set for the kitchen. My stepdad got really nice gifts. They just never cared for me."
"My ex-fiancée came clean that she was cheating on me for a pretty long stretch of time on my birthday. She told me an hour before we were supposed to leave to head to my birthday dinner.
Reservations were already made at a pretty fancy restaurant that was part of the huge country club where our wedding reception was going to be. I went alone and had to cancel the wedding reception and eat dinner alone."
"The only present I got for Christmas one year was a little light-up ball. You put your finger on the two metal tabs and the ball lights up.
It was underwhelming, but I figured maybe money was tight. After I had figured out what it was, how it worked and had tried it with a few people, Dad asked me if he could have a try. I said sure. I passed him the ball and he immediately threw it on the ground, hard enough to break it.
'I thought it was a bouncy ball!'
He knew it wasn't."
I was in Japan, my co-workers were going to take me out to my favorite Sushi place for my Birthday. I was younger, didn't drive at the time; not a problem! A co-worker was going to pick me up!
4:00 p.m. arrives, no one shows up. 4:45 p.m. I call the friend: 'Is anyone going to pick me up?'
'Oh sorry, I'll be there in a few!'
Thought she was just running late, we were busy at work lately (my day off), didn't pay any mind to it.
6:30 p.m. arrived, call her back... 'Oh, hey! We were wondering where you were!'
YOU WERE MY RIDE, how could you forget?!
They were all there, enjoying my favorite restaurant, one of them even brought a cake."
"My uncle killed himself last year but gave me a Christmas gift for the only time in his life before he died. He suffered from mental illness and lived out in some remote part of the mountains out of state and so I only ever saw the guy maybe every 4 years or something before he died. My only memories of him were of how he used to shake a bit when he talked and how he was always pretty hyper whenever he visited and would usually say some inappropriate things which I could only put down to his illness when I look back on it. I hadn't seen him for about 3 years before he killed himself and I didn't have any idea that he was suicidal, although it makes more sense now given the illness that he suffered from. He was pretty eccentric when it came to giving gifts, yet the gift that he gave me still surprised me.
My uncle mailed me my gift in some crappy package with three different kinds of duct tape used on it and some staples to keep it together. I didn't expect anything from him because he had never given me anything before in my entire life, yet I was curious what was in the package because of the way that he was and due to him never making any effort to do anything for me or to connect with me in any way.
I open up the package and it's a black beanie hat that probably cost him less than 5 bucks. I throw the beanie on my bed and go to throw the packaging in the trash when I feel something stuck in the corner of the package that I must have missed. I open the package again, move some soft paper material away and pull out this patch that reads 'BIG O DONOR' in red. I just stared at the patch and didn't know what it was for until I saw that I had missed two safety pins that had fallen by my feet on my carpet floor. I put this all together and concluded that my uncle had given me the patch and pins so that I could fasten them to my beanie so that I could walk around town wearing a beanie that says 'BIG O DONOR.'
It was just such an example of his illness and bizarre nature that it makes me sad thinking about it.
He died all alone out in the middle of nowhere and the only memory that I really have of him is listening to him speak fervently with a stutter in my dining room at Easter or Christmas and of this hat that he gave me before he decided that he didn't want to stick around anymore. It might not seem like that weird of a gift, but when I consider who gave it to me and how he must have really thought that it was something that I would enjoy, it makes me feel sad and depressed to think about what must have gone on in his head in his tiny place all of the years out in the mountains before he blew his head off.
At his funeral, it was only his immediate family and there were no friends or anyone else there outside of us. It was obviously a closed casket and the whole affair was just depressing for me to go through. I had to devote hours on that day to thinking about him, yet I couldn't come up with much to think about because I never really knew him. The only thoughts of him that I could muster that day were of the faint memories of him and my dining room table during his rare holiday visits and of the Big O Beanie that he had left for me before he ended his life."
"This happened at Christmas at my dad's house back when I was a sophomore in high school. My dad had just got together with my stepmom within the few years beforehand, and she hated (and still hates) me because she wants her daughter to be the only one who grasps his attention.
They asked me what I wanted. I grew up really poor so I was used to asking for just one gift (so that my mom, dad, and stepdad could split the cost, sometimes wouldn't even get the one gift). I asked for an iPod touch, second generation I believe. It probably would've cost $250 so I didn't get my hopes high but I also didn't request anything else.
Now come Christmas time, I didn't get the iPod but instead a $100 gift card. I wasn't upset that I didn't get what I wanted, I was upset that my eight-year-old stepsister got one instead. Along with a Wii, a bunch of Wii games, a pair of Uggs, and at least 500 dollars worth more of gifts. When I brought it up to their attention, I was told that I was just jealous, and 'It's not my fault that her family loves her enough to make sure that she has a happy Christmas!'
Not only did I watch my stepsister open the gifts I wanted, and plenty freaking more, but my stepmother basically made the inclination that I wasn't loved. Witch.
Things are now rocky with my dad. I still love him, but I just can't forgive him for being okay with the See-You-Next-Tuesday who doesn't give a crap about his own family."
"My neighbor bought me a huge bag of Beggin' Strips dog treats when my chocolate lab died. Her reasoning was that she knew we were going to get another dog soon enough. It was so depressing.
I divided up the bag, making about 20 plastic baggies with a few treats each in them. I went to my poor pup's favorite dog park. I gave the bags out to the dog owners, on one condition. They had to promise me one thing: that these would be 'just because' treats, doled out not as a reward for obeying a command or something, but simply because the owner loves their dog and is grateful that he's alive.
I attached a note explaining that I just lost my dog to hip dysplasia/old age when it got too bad and I had to put him down. I wrote about how much I regret every time I was too tired to take him to the puppy park for a game of fetch, all the times I made him get off my bed and sleep on his own because he snored/smelled/took up the whole bed, every time I didn't give him a few bites of whatever he was begging for. The note encouraged dog owners to never waste a second they have with their pet and to show them love every day since they won't be around forever."
"My uncle came to visit and gave my sister a regular present. He gave me a half-eaten small box of supermarket cookies. I was, intellectually, pretty good about it. I realized it meant nothing about his affection for me. He just found a good gift for her and hadn't thought about one for me. I was just embarrassed because I saw he was embarrassed, so I was quiet, which probably made him feel worse. But man, that gift sucked a lot more than saying, 'I forgot your gift at home. Next time, Champ.'"
"My Japanese grandma bought my mom a scale after she gave birth to me. She also gave my older brother a big screen tv for his 10th birthday. On my 10th birthday, I got a box of underwear that was about 5 sizes too big and a lollipop that expired a decade before that. She also started a college fund for all my male cousins, I'm one of the only female grandchildren, so instead of a college fund, I got a plastic surgery fund to fix the scar on my face that she thinks ruins my chance of marrying a nice Asian boy. I said I didn't want the plastic surgery so she divided my fund up into everyone else's college fund while I took out loans..."
"For my wife's 30th birthday, I organized a surprise party. We had supper at the local pizza place (her favorite), then bowling, then a movie. For my thirtieth, she told me to go out and buy myself a cake. When I came home, her parents had shown up to partake in said cake. I had to go out again for soda. There was no cake left when I got back."
When I turned 16, I told my parents that I didn't want a party or anything, but I really wanted a cell phone.
That day, I came home from my friend's house on my 16th birthday and as I was coming in the door, I saw a bunch of boxes in the trash for cell phones.
I got very excited and when I went into the kitchen I saw several cell phones on the kitchen table. Thinking that my parents had gotten me a few different options, I began sizing up my choice.
However, my hopes soon became dashed when through the course of the next few minutes it became clear that my mom, my dad, and my brother had all gotten new cell phones...and I had not.
My parents said it was because I had said that I did not want a party or anything special.
Even thinking about it now disappoints."
"I was with this guy for well over a year. We broke up a little after Valentine's Day, though not because of the gift. But up until that point, it was safe to say we knew each other very well and I had been VERY vocal about things I do or don't like. Every summer, I rave about my dad's fresh strawberries from his garden and at random points in the year, I'll express that the ONLY strawberries I'll eat are the ones from my dad's garden. I'm a VERY picky eater and anyone who knows me longer than a month knows this. A month before Valentine's Day, my at the time boyfriend and I were talking with one of our friends. She brought up how for her birthday, her mom got her a bouquet of chocolate covered fruit and she was excited to eat it. Well, Mr. BF told me that's a great idea for my birthday and then asked what I thought. I said, 'Oh, no no no. I do NOT like chocolate covered fruit of any kind, AT ALL, EVER.' I brought it up many times before and after how I DO NOT like chocolate covered fruit, ESPECIALLY strawberries. So Valentine's rolled around and I made him a bunch of cookies, cupcakes, and cute other things. He worked at a grocery store then and he got off work and stopped by briefly at my house to give me my gift, which was bought from the store he worked. It was (drum roll please) chocolate covered strawberries! My least favorite thing in the whole wide world!
A month later, he called me up and something was clearly upsetting him, so he said he'd come by and we'd go to the park to talk. Halfway to the park, I noticed makeup doing a crap job of hiding the hickeys all over his neck. He insisted we wait to talk until we get to the park because 'We have pizza.' Turns out the pizza was made by the chick that gave him the hickeys because she 'felt sorry for me.'
He was the gift-giving king."
"For my 19th birthday, I was living in a dorm and living up to the 'starving college student' persona. My parents generously got me a $100 gift card so I could afford groceries, along with a supermarket rewards card.
Then they went grocery shopping and took my gift card. So for my 19th birthday, I got a Shoprite loyalty card."
"One year money was tight, real tight. I was in my mid-teens when my mum took me aside and explained that I would not be receiving a birthday present that year. My inner child screamed, but me wanting to show how much of a man I had grown to be just nodded and smiled and thanked my mum anyway. The day came, and as forwarned there was no present. It hurt but I was determined to be a man about it. 2 days later I was in the kitchen and I noticed a shopping bag on the bench. Being a curious person I had a look to see what was inside. Inside that bag the largest amount of pot I had ever seen in one place. I knew Mum and her boyfriend smoked it. Eff you, Mum."
"I got expired chocolate, on Christmas, from an aunt who was a chronic re-gifter, yet always expected expensive, top-notch gifts for her children on Christmas and their birthdays.
Not only was the chocolate expired, but it was also evident that it had melted completely and resolidified. When I noticed, I went up to her with, 'This chocolate is soooo good, you have to try it!' in front of the whole family. I watched her unwrap a piece of chocolate and when she noticed how it looked, she was hesitant to eat it. When she looked at me, I just had a smile on my face. 'It's the best chocolate ever!' And then I watched her slowly bring it to her mouth and try to eat it. She quickly walked to the kitchen immediately afterward.
I think I've only seen her once since that moment almost nine years ago."
"My first 'real' relationship - in the sense that it involved mutual mushing-together of naughty bits - began when I was 16 years old. It lasted for two and a half years, which I've been told is fairly impressive for a couple in high school. Truth be told, that span of time is most notable when you consider the fact that the young woman and I were almost completely incompatible. That was never more evident than when she tried to give me gifts.
During our first Christmas together, my then-girlfriend gave me a pair of hand weights, the sort that might be held by a jogger wearing leggings. They had clearly been purchased from the bargain bin at the local thrift store, but I told myself it was the thought that mattered (even if I wasn't sure that any thought had gone into the gift at all). Besides, we had only been dating for about three months, and it was probably unfair of me to expect anything at all.
Unfortunately, that would set the stage for every gift I'd receive from the girl.
I need to pause for a moment and explain something about this young woman. Although she was ambitious and talented, she had almost zero patience for practice or preparation.
For my eighteenth birthday, this young woman - who was also, I should mention, completely tone-deaf - forced me to sit in a plastic folding chair for as long as it took her to 'sing' her way through three love songs by Elvis Presley. I hated Elvis at the time and watching this girl attempt (and fail) to mumble her way through 'Love Me Tender' was as close to torture as I'd been through.
Worse still, I had to sit back and pretend that I enjoyed it... because as she'd told me, she'd worked really hard on it."