Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Epic Fail

When I was pathetic and sick the week before Christmas, I caught a bit of Oprah between naps. It was her "favorite things" episode. This year, instead of extravagant gifts, Oprah suggested gifts that cost next to nothing. So I was primed when the boy came to me and suggested that perhaps this would not be an extravagant Christmas.

Let me back up a little bit. We are all well aware that tuition payments suck out my soul a little at a time. Additionally, I've alluded to the fact that the boy used to have a job that he hated. He quit that job August-ish and is now much (much much) happier, but also on a much tighter budget. This doesn't matter to me at all, and I've never been one to equate money to happiness, but it seems to be a tender subject for him so I try not to focus on it much. Thus, when he came to me about Christmas, I didn't bat an eye and asked him for a gift that didn't cost a thing.

"Write me a letter," I said.

"A letter?" He responded doubtfully.

"Yes. A letter. Oprah said that some of her most meaningful gifts have been little notes that she received where people said nice things about her. I think that's a nice gesture, and how often do we really do things like that? I've been trying to do it more often, but it occurs to me that I've never given you anything like that."


(In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned Oprah. This immediately caused the boy to dismiss my request as he and I both share similiar views on her show and I think he thought I was still sick and that the sickness was affecting my brain.*)

As Christmas approached, he commented several times that he couldn't think of what to get me that was affordable. "I want to give you the world," he said. I remained resolute in my request for a letter and I warmed to it more each time I brought it up. Eventually, the boy just stopped wondering what to get for me, and the subject was dropped. In the end, I assumed that he didn't want to write the letter (what boy is really anxious to put his feelings down on paper?) and that this request would die a quiet death like others I've made and the boy didn't want to fulfill. When we went to our respective families for Christmas with the implicit promise to have our Christmas when we got back, I didn't even remind him about the letter. In fact, so sure was I that we would just end up doing a dinner together or something of that nature, I didn't even bother to write my letter to him.

I'll bet you all know where this story is going.

When I returned home on Sunday, exhausted and frazzled, the boy called and offered to bring dinner, and I immediately accepted. It was great to not have to make dinner, but even greater to see him and completely relax. After the hellos (both of us) and inhaling of food (me) we settled down to watch some TV and chill. We discussed our Christmases (both fabulous) and eventually the subject got around to our presents for each other.

"So where's my letter?" I teased.

"I dropped it there on the table for you to read later. Didn't you see?"

"..." (Internally there were alarm bells ringing and sirens sounding and a repeating chorus of variations of "Holy Shit!") "Ha ha. You must be joking," is what I eventually managed to force out.

"Nope. It's right there." In disbelief, I got up to see it for myself. The boy, smelling blood on the water, moved in for the kill. "Where's MY letter."


"You DID write me a letter, right? That was our agreement?"


"Yes you have my letter? Can I have it now please?"

"No, I meant 'yes that was our agreement.'"

"Oh. So where's my letter?"


Eventually I was forced to admit that I had not, in fact, written him a letter. That I had assumed that he would not fulfill my Christmas request. That I sucked as a girlfriend.** That I was horrible for underestimating him. And that I was indeed a bad dog. Bad dog!! Tail tucked and eyes downward, I was the picture of remorse. Because the boy is a bigger person than I am, and because he's strong enough to admit that perhaps I had a bit of past behavior to make me doubt him, he laughed it off after making me feel (appropriately) guilty for about ninety minutes.

Still, I continued to feel guilty on my own. EPIC FAIL BY EMILY. Seriously. What on EARTH came over me? I am the worst person in the whole world! I suck. I should STILL be in time out. Bad Emily.***

The only upside to this is that it took me MUCH less time to write my letter as it took him to write his (Apparently I have a bit more practice putting my feelings on paper screen...) so he got his letter last night (after editing and re-editing until I couldn't re-edit any more.) I did NOT read his letter until mine was completed and in a sealed envelope. I didn't want any guidance because he didn't have any when he wrote his. Fair is fair.

His letter? It was fabulous. Better than I had any right to hope for. If I were a girl, I would say that it renewed my faith in fairytales and romance and happily ever after. Since I'm not I'll just say that apparently, even on a tight budget, it's possible to afford the finer things in life. I hope we do this again next year, and I would suggest it as a gift idea for anyone who wants to give a gift that will be remembered for a long time****.

*At that point, you thought this blog was about the BOY'S epic failure, weren't you? Admit it...
**Yes, I had to break out the girlfriend word. Again. Shut it. You all knew it was coming. I was groveling. I had no choice. Damn.
***J, this blog only made it to the light of day because of you and your eternal quest to have me be fair and balanced in my portrayal of the boy. I, too, am capable of royal screw ups.
****When I asked him what his favorite part of MY letter was, he said, "The part where you point out your flaws." I could feel the romance. Seriously, folks. I can't make this stuff up.


Kat(i)e said...

So when my boy and I exchanged gifts I was surprised to see a card attached. It was NOT the traditional funny emotionless xmas card (you know I typically like my cards with some kind of cartoon animal that talks). It was one of those totally sappy sentimental cards - it was way better than any of the gifts.

Jaclyn said...

Somehow, I knew this post was for me - even before I got to the "footnotes." ;) I knew the term "girlfriend" was still lurking around somewhere too.

Farmerspice said...

Fairytales do exist and Tom didn't have to be the one to prove it to you!! Merry Christmas Em....Thank you for your friendship.

Candace said...

I found your story to very touching. What a great idea.

AnnD said...

Awwwwwwwwww....I love it. [hugs]

alisa said...

I would take your gift exchange any day over anything purchased ... Love it!

AnnD said...

I came back to read it again. It's just so funny and moving...usually you only get one or the other but this is both.

"The part where you point out your flaws." hahahaha J. would have said the SAME thing, I promise.