Lesson: Bring general gifts when going to a Christmas party, no matter whose party it is

So this is a tale of embarrassment and learning…

Background: My therapist really put the kibosh on excessive spending this Christmas season. This whole thing started because she knows how much I owe my credit card and since she’s my gf Mona’s therapist too, she told US that our spending is minimal this year. 

(Ok ok, she’s ultimately not the boss of me but I’m trying her teachings on because she’s stricter with my budget than I am.)

So this Christmukkah, Mona and I bought each other’s ticket to a show as the main gift. We also spent a bit more on tchotchke side gifts.

Now with this commitment, I couldn’t go see my parents in Florida. Airfare this time of year is expensive. Plus there was a possibility of bringing Mona. Layers of complications.

So I really tightened up.  No spending for gifts for my parents or nieces or nephews (they all know and are ok with it.)

However… I was invited to my father’s first cousin Alice’s (which makes her my first cousin, once removed) house for Christmas eve and my Aunt Jenny’s house for Christmas day.

Now… Alice, her husband and my Uncle Jim were the only people I knew were going to be there, and one other was to be there but I didn’t know who. Now, I’m tightening my spending belt this year. I thought the fact that I was bringing fruit was enough. Also, it was Christmas Eve not the day. 

It turned out Alice’s son Steve was the 5th person there. On the day, we ate and ate and ate (not 7 fishes..  only 2.) Then Alice said “ok time for Christmas.” 


Gifts came out. Yep, some for me. One from Alice, one from Uncle Jim even one from Steve. Most were bags of small gifts, including gloves, an umbrella and bottle of wine in its own small bag. 

Ugh, what an ass I am. I had to overtly give a “I had NO IDEA we’d do gifts.” And of course they weren’t angry. Really, I could have bought any cheap houseware if nothing else. But I had been so caught up with my situation that I didn’t even think about upcoming possibilities and decorum of attending a Christmas celebration. 

Ok, I left with some egg on my face. But then something hit me: CHRISTMAS was the next day. 

I was going to Aunt Jenny’s the next day. Along with my aunt… my cousin Penny and her two boys (11 and 10) would be there. Penny had already said not to get the kids anything. 

Ok, now I’d just learned a valuable lesson. I needed to bring SOME gifts. I can’t get caught with NO gifts, especially with Mona coming. But the challenge was that it was Christmas and places are closed. 


Well, maybe CVS will be open. I could get cards and give the kids money if nothing else. My aunts and uncles used to give me that when I was a kid.

I woke up early and went outside… CVS was NOT open. 


But the local bodega WAS. No cards but they do have wine. Nothing great but it was something I could at least give Aunt Jenny. Actually I bought a bottle of white sangria, which I could put in the wine bag I got Christmas Eve. 

I went back in my apt, got ready and figured I’d figure something else out. When I left I passed CVS and they were OPEN (opened later than usual.)


I got some cards, put money in for the kids. And at Aunt Jenny’s you better believe Aunt Jenny and Penny gave both me and Mona gifts. 

Well, at least nobody knew the dramatic dilemma I had that morning, and I saved face. 



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