Sunday, December 20, 2009

No Exchanges or Refunds...

Well we're looking straight down the barrel of another holiday season. The eggnog's in the fridge awaiting a hearty dose of something rummy, the tree's lit and the mound of brightly wrapped packages beneath it continues to expand daily, devouring yet another inch of carpet and spilling further into the living room.

Makes you think, or it makes me think. I have little ones, so my holidays are holly jolly and full of magic that, I think, it requires children present to really achieve. But the onslaught of gift giving and receiving, aside from the children, sometimes seems a little bit like overkill.

Maybe it's because I'm spoiled. I am. It's almost embarrassing. I'm pretty content with life in general, and there is little if anything that I really, truly feel is lacking. Okay, I could get really wild and fantasize a few things that might be nice, but for the most part, my needs and wants are met.

My ideal Christmas gift? Aside from health, happiness and good grades for my younguns... a big fat royalty check and a steady stream of acceptance letters would do.

So in the spirit of generosity and giving and all that, I start to think about the worst possible presents, and those nasty, no give-back gifts that come without a gift receipt, that can't be exchanged, and that you never, ever asked for. Not the chia pet (I love those things) or the Billy Bass (okay, not funny) No. When I think of rotten gifts, something a touch more abstract comes to mind.

Unsolicited Advice:
You know this one, right? It usually starts with the phrase, You know what you should do? Or just jumps right into the "YOU SHOULD..." I get this one from home decorating tips, to organization suggestions, to how to run my career. My response? I never asked for your opinion because I didn't want it. The UA (nice, huh?) usually crosses over into the "Hidden Agenda" category...and in my opinion, the worst offender is the subcategory: Unsolicited Parenting Advice. (don't get me started on THAT rant anytime soon.)

The Hidden Agenda:
Here's a winner. Technically this is a sub category of the Unsolicited Advice column, but it comes with a secret toy surprise. . . I get this the most from immediate family members and close friends. It goes something like this: Me, "I can't figure out the next scene in this bloody story." Them, "You should take a few weeks off and just let it stew for awhile." and sub vocalized, but perfectly audible, "then you could pay attention to something important for once, like me."

The Expert Opinion:
Don't let the name fool you. The Expert Opinion always comes from someone with absolutely no experience in the subject at hand whatsoever. It has a tendency to inflate the giver's opinion of themself while simultaneously minimizing the give-ee to a state of complete idiocy. Again, the worst of the worst in this category? Expert, Unsolicited Parenting advice from someone who's never had Children.
Nothing makes me want to bite out someone's trachea like getting the magical key to solving all my parenting difficulties from someone who's never bred. (well, my kitties are just like my children, you know...) Until you've pushed one out after three days of labor, I beg to differ. They can be your "kids" but you are not a parent.

Am I starting to sound a bit...Scrooge-y? Don't misunderstand. Like any unlovable present, the above can be accepted with grace and a polite, "thank you," and then discarded or re-gifted at will. Aside from the parenting bit, which almost requires bloodshed, I think most of the above offenders are usually harmless. And I do have my holiday spirit flowing. I've had some eggnog, and I'm feeling pretty jolly.

Maybe it's the impending influx of family visits and friendly drop-ins that has me thinking a bit dourly this evening. Maybe it's a mediocre review, that really wasn't that painful after all. At least if came from an expert. (a real one)
Criticism at a professional level, I can handle. It's a good thing too. After the landslide of rejections on the way to publication, critique doesn't exactly stop. Next come the edits and the editors, then the reviewers...(not so bad, really) and after that the fans.

Yes, I said fans. Don't think for a moment that that title will let you off the hook with them. The fans may be the toughest of the lot. I'll let you know when I actually get one. ;-)

In the meantime,
Happy Holidays and May your gifts include nothing from my peevish list.

Cheers,
Frances

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