I know I have mentioned before how easy my beloved mother-in-law, Mommy, is to shop for. She is an excellent giftee (sorry, don't think that's a word) for two reasons. 1. She likes everything. 2. She buys almost nothing for herself, so you can be pretty sure that she doesn't already have what you get her and that she needs it.
My favorite story which I believe defines the joy of giving gifts to Mommy is about a Mother's Day many years ago. I bought Mommy a fancy baking dish, but when I went to wrap it, discovered that I was out of wrapping paper. So I dug out all my old Bon Appetit magazines and cut out every picture I could find of chocolate (Mommy = Chocoholic) and made them into chocolate/collage/wrapping paper. I then mailed the present to New York. A few days later, Mommy called, terribly excited. She was shrieking with joy "Ooooooh myyyyy Gawd! I loooove it, I love it, I love it! It's so beautiful!" (remember Mommy's Brooklyn accent and pronounce beautiful - byoo-tee-ful). "I'm so glad," I said, "I think you can make your chicken cutlets in it." There was a pause, then Mommy cried, "there's MOOOOORE????!!" Yes, that's right. Mommy hadn't even opened the present. She was just that excited about the wrapping paper.
That said...every now and then, I will make the mistake of asking Mommy what she wants for Christmas, and she always says "Oh no, I don't need nothing. I don't want you to spend your money on me. But what I really could use is..." She says it like that in one breath, and out of her mouth comes something she's clearly thought a great deal about, and is ridiculously, painfully specific. And it always sends me on a Mommy Quest.
I remember a year back during the pre-internet days when she decided that what she really needed was a white, v-neck sweatshirt. But not white white, she wanted "winter white". I searched EVERYWHERE. I must have gone to twelve stores. There were no winter white v-neck sweatshirts in the city of Los Angeles. I was a failure.
Which leads us to this year.
"Mommy, is there anything you really want for Christmas?" I asked.
"Oh no, you don't need to get me any presents," answered Mommy.
"But Mommy, you know I'm going to get you something no matter what you say. Is there anything you want or need?"
"No, no, you know me, I don't need anything. Don't worry about me."
"Mommy, don't be silly."
"Well you know...my denim pocketbook is wearing out. I could use a new denim pocketbook."
And there you have it. A "denim pocketbook". Why did I ask?! This is wrong in so many ways.
"Well Mommy, I'm not sure if they make denim pocketbooks any more," I said.
NOTE: Mommy's denim handbag, which she calls a pocketbook, was probably purchased in 1984 or so.
"Oh no? I thought they were back," said Mommy.
It's at this point that I should remind everyone that, as I said before, she never buys anything for herself. She simply has a thing, and then uses it until it wears out. Maybe we should all learn a thing or two from Mommy.
After much questioning and confusion, I came to understand her pocketbook needs...
- She wants a bag to carry to "the store". "Nothing fancy". Meaning cheap.
- She doesn't want a good leather bag. She already has one of those. She only uses it for church.
- The bag should be light-weight.
- The bag should not be overly large.
So the bottom line is that Mommy wants a crappy handbag. I hate to say it, but there it is.
And I have learned a thing or two over the last twenty years, and one thing I've learned is that if I get her something "too nice" she will NEVER use it. It will just sit there in a drawer. It's crazy.
For example...this summer, I bought her a new nightgown for her birthday. I bought it at...Target. We're not talking Lord & Taylor's or Bloomingdale's or even Macy's. Target. It was a stretchy nightie made of t-shirt material. But she deemed it "too nice" to wear. I swear to God. She is saving it for "something special". What the what? She's 84! She and Pop sleep in separate bedrooms! I bought it because I thought it seemed comfy. But noooo...
So I started my search. First of all, a Google search of "denim handbag" yields a plethora of pictures of HIDEOUS handbags. Hideous and not as cheap as they look. The best of them was a Michael Kors bag that cost $345, which is more than the sum total of all of the clothes in Mommy's closet.
I went to Ross Dress for Less, I went to Loehmann's, I went to TJ Maxx, I went to Marshall's. All of the places which Mommy would deem acceptable places to purchase a gift for her. There was nothing.
I feel that I should clarify that Mommy is not cheap. In fact, she's quite generous when it comes to GIVING gifts. She enjoys writing a nice check. She just refuses to spend anything on herself. It's a little tragic.
So finally, I ended up back at good old Target. And found this...
It's ugly. And it's not denim. But it is "nothing fancy". It is light-weight, and it is not overly large. I brought it home and showed it to Jimmy, and he said "that's my mom!" So I'm hoping she'll like it.
Maybe if I wrap it in pictures of chocolate?
This post was inspired by...
Prompt #5 - Talk about a problem you tackled this week.