Every year since P died, one of the things that's bothered me most is not having any presents to open on Christmas morning. It's not as if I need anyone to buy me presents - if I see a book or a knickknack or a pair of earrings I like, I usually buy it for myself then and there. I have enough perfume and shower gel to scent half the city; my kitchen is overflowing with pans and gadgets I hardly use; and if I want to watch movies I can borrow them from Netflix. Still, I never fail to feel a little sorry for myself as I sit on the floor, bleary-eyed and empty-handed, watching G tear the shiny paper off her gifts. I love seeing her happy and excited, of course; that undercurrent of dejection is an instinctual thing, programmed sometime in my own childhood, when being overlooked by Santa would have been as bad as having your birthday forgotten.
Last year I did get a present a little later on Christmas Day, while we were visiting a relative's house. It was a variety pack of Knotts Berry Farm jam, wrapped, but with no ribbon or tag, and it was very clearly one of those gifts that people buy in bulk and keep on hand in case someone turns up unexpectedly and they haven't got anything to give them. The funny part was that I was actually pleased to receive it, because hey! A package to unwrap! If you've ever seen the Peanuts strip where Schroeder berates Violet for giving Charlie Brown a used Valentine, and then Charlie Brown interrupts him and says "I'll take it," well, that was me and my box of jam.
So, with Christmas a week away, I'm mentally preparing myself for yet another holiday in which the best I can hope for is nine different flavors of jam. (It was good jam, by the way. I just finished eating it all a couple of months ago.) I could buy myself a present and wrap it up, of course. I wouldn't even have to spend my own money, since my mother sent me a check earlier this week with instructions to buy something for myself and G. But it wouldn't be the same feeling as getting up in the morning and having surprise packages to open, with presents inside that were chosen just for me. Spoiled? Selfish? Maybe, but there it is.