Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Nothing Says Christmas Like Turbo Tax

My mother is the Christmas Coordinator in my rather large family, which means that for the last 25 years, she's been buying presents for her husband, four children, twenty-odd under-18 nieces and nephews, parents, in-laws, and assorted other relatives and friends. So for 25 years, my mother has been demanding Christmas lists from all of her children and my dad to simplify her Christmas shopping.

When we were 5 and 6 and 7, this was the funnest task in the world. She'd toss us the Service Merchandise catalog and we'd pore over the 100-page section of toys in the back, carefully writing out exactly what we wanted, down to the page number, so Santa would be sure to know what to bring us. But as we got older, and discovered Santa was really "Mom on a shopping spree," and wanted fewer things, it got more difficult. By college, Christmas lists had become not just an annoyance but a certified pain in the butt.

That's when things got competitive.

Mom claims this is our fault, for taking sibling rivalry to a new level. But we know the truth - mom teases us about being the first or last to turn in the Christmas lists because she knows we'll get competitive about it and we'll turn them in earlier that way.

And when I say "turn in," I mean turn in. If you give her a Christmas list she feels is insufficient, she turns it back to you for corrections. Seriously.

The hassling begins the day after Hallowe'en, repeated calls and e-mails reminding us to turn in our Christmas lists ASAP. Last year, my husband, still new to the family and fearing my mother's Christmas-related wrath, turned his list in first. Seeking to encourage him to keep up the good habits, my mother praised him to high heaven and pronounced him her new favorite child -- or at least her favorite son-in-law. Mr. McGee was insufferably smug about this, and I got crap galore from my mother because my husband was more on the ball than me.

Ooooooh, I was determined to show him! (Boy, isn't that the mark of a healthy marriage.) This year, I e-mailed my list just after midnight on November 1, before my mother even got around to asking for it. So proud of myself was I that I e-mailed the list to all of my siblings, my husband, my mom, and my dad, along with the notation that I was now officially the favorite child.

The level of unholy glee I felt about being first with my Christmas list, just hours after the official opening of list season, is a little disturbing to me. But not so disturbing I'm going to stop bragging about it.

Eventually all my siblings got theirs in, though my older-younger brother had his first attempt returned for corrections before coming in second. My husband came in third. My sister thought she was fourth, and safe ... but it turns out my younger-younger brother turned his in a couple days before her but didn't deign to e-mail it to the class, so she was last of the siblings and thus condemned to a year's worth of mocking. (And she was promptly informed via e-mail from my father that she is too young, at 21, to ask for DVDs of "Sex in the City.")

This morning we finally got my dad's list, who is the hardest person to shop for because he's not really into "stuff." His Christmas lists are famously rotten, often asking for "socks" and "undershirts." This year he asks for Turbo Tax -- but only if the giver saves all the rebate cards and proofs of purchase. Yeah Dad, nothing says "Christmas" quite like Turbo Tax -- complete with rebate forms!

But even though Dad's list is lame as usual (although really, slightly less-lame than usual: no socks or undershirts this year!), Dad has turned in his list. Which means that we are missing just one list that would enable us to finish our Christmas shopping:

Mom, everybody's waiting on YOU.


Lee Smith said...

Good to see Mr. McGee turning in his work early! I may have to confer with your mother for advice in this.

Robin said...

Awesome post! You made me smile!