A couple of weeks ago it was my father’s birthday. After Father’s Day, it is probably my second least favorite day of the year. It is not because I don’t like celebrating other people’s days, it is that my father acts even worse on occasions where he feels entitled to extra attention.
My sister and I buy gifts for my parents on their birthdays and on Christmas. My father is literally the most impossible person to shop for. It is not that it is hard to think of good gifts for him, rather that he returns EVERYTHING! We are all guilty of occasionally returning or regifting something that we don’t love or need, but he does it with almost every single present we give him.
1. My dad got a job where he had to be on the road several hours a day traveling. I thought of the best gift- a mini fridge that plugs into the cigarette lighter in the car…because he was always complaining about having to stop for a cold soda and how his sandwiches would get warm. I was so excited to give it to him. He returned it to the store two days later.
2. My dad likes mini electronic helicoptors. My sister saw a Groupon for a really cool one and bought it for him. She thought she finally hit the nail on the proverbial head and found the perfect gift- the ONE that would not be returned. Nope. He returned it to Amazon and bought a bigger, better version.
3. My dad is obsessed with leftovers and my parents’ freezer is filled with all kinds of food in plastic baggies. After coming across the “As Seen on TV” vacuum sealer, I thought for sure that it was going to be a keeper. Negative.
3. There are too many others to name: sweatshirts, gadgets, tools, computer programs, jackets, books, etc. etc. There was one Christmas about 10 years ago where we got him a few polo shirts and some candy and he kept them! My sister and I felt like we pleased the Grinch!
But, after years of this, my sister and I decided that we would no longer put any effort into buying him gifts. Many of our friends/boyfriends thought we were crazy that we even bothered at all, considering that he acts so ungratefully. Now we simply buy him an Amazon gift card and call it a day. The thing is, I am not sure why we continued to try for so long. And there are still things I see that I think, “I bet he would like that” and then I remember all the years of having to hand over the gift receipt so he could return or exchange what we bought him.
I want to say that it became like a challenge or a game…”What Won’t Dad Return”…and although my sister and I joke about this, there is a hurtful element to it. I think it also molded me into an extreme people pleaser. This has been a recurring problem in my relationships with men. On a fundamental, simplistic level it is almost like “if I can just find the perfect gift or do something really nice and thoughtful, he (dad, boyfriend, etc.) will be happy and will continue to love me.” I am not a materialistic person at all and I would always rather give than receive. But this desire to please our father, who actually treats my sister and myself pretty horribly, has always been a little confusing and upsetting to me.