I know you are going to think I am a selfish beast, but hear me out first, okay? Every Christmas, without fail, my sister and her husband outspend me on gifts for our mother - and not just by a little; they spend roughly twice what I spend, sometimes more. Plus, their gifts are always incredibly thoughtful while also being practical. For example, last year they got my mother a 1 year gift-subscription to Netflix and a Blu-Ray player with Wi-Fi because she enjoys movies but doesn't always have the time or money to see them while they are in theaters; I bought Mom a new toaster oven because she had mentioned she needed one, and I felt like an idiot because my sister's gift was so much cooler – and more expensive.
This year, money was a bit tight for me because I will be taking an 11-day trip to the Caribbean in January. It is expensive, but it is a singles' cruise and I am hoping to meet someone. I am considering the expense an investment in my future. For Christmas this year, I bought Mother a Yankee Candle - one of the big jar candles, because I know she likes candles, and Yankee candles are expensive compared to other brands. I figured that since the economy has been bad and my brother-in-law's business has been slow, my sister and husband would not be spending as much on gifts this year, but I was wrong. They bought Mom a new Lane reclining chaise lounge for the living room to replace her old, worn-out and stained one. Granted, it was a floor-sample that they got for 50%-off, but it matches my mother's decor perfectly; and of course, Mom loves it. Embarrassed, I lied and told my mother that the rest of her gift was part of the Christmas week Best Buy back-order cancellation that made the news last week, and that it would be coming in after the holidays; that the gift I was giving her today (I am writing this Christmas night) was just so she would have something to open.
My problem is I have no idea what to get my Mom that will top my sister's gift! The money I have saved is set aside for entertainment when I go on my cruise next month; but if I don't come through with something amazing, everyone will know that I lied. From reading your column, I know how you feel about lying, but I am hoping you will help me anyway! Do you have any gift ideas that will not break my budget? Something that would be reasonable to believe was back-ordered? Oh, and can you please bump my letter to the top of your letters list? I really need a quick answer!
Up A Tree
P.S. I have asked my sister to spend less on Mom's gift, but she just looked at me and pointed out that we have similar household incomes and she has to buy for her in-laws, as well. Left unsaid was the fact that she thinks I am cheap! Grrrrr!!!!!
Dear Up A Tree:
Have you considered the fact that maybe you are being cheap with your Mother? Think about it: you are about to lay out approximately $3000 on a cruise for yourself, and you spent less than 1% of that amount on the woman who birthed and raised you. Where I come from, there is NOTHING that is too good for a Mommie! The time has come to put your sibling rivalry aside and put your Mama first! I am bumping your letter to the top of my queue not in approval of your request, but because I am thinking of your Mama and the disappointment she will feel if she discovers your lie. You had better hope that she is not reading this letter, because I did not change a single detail to protect your identity!
Since you seem adamant about not cutting into your cruise entertainment money, and you told your Mom a very specific lie about her back-ordered gift, my regular ideas for gifts (year-round lawn care services, car tune-up, theater tickets, etc.) will not work. I suggest that you start trolling Best Buy for a sweet deal on a 42-inch or larger HDTV (as these made up the bulk of the back-ordered items) so your Mama can enjoy a movie theatre-like experience with her Netflix subscription. I would also suggest you pay for it with the money you were planning on spending on alcohol and other entertainments during next month's cruise; but if you cannot bring yourself to suck it up, Best Buy offers reasonable financing plans - something I also frown upon; but in for a penny in for a pound, I suppose.
P.S. No snuggles for you!