Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Shopping Hell and how to cope with it

I have come up with quite a few coping methods for dealing with Grandma and the fact that I'm essentially under house arrest for the duration of her care.

The first and easiest is to turn on the television to the History or Discovery channels, A&E for CSI:Miami, Spike for Star Trek or CSI, Sci-Fi for a bunch of different shows and cheesy-good movies. Watching one of the movies in my rather large DVD collection is the other option. Nothing cheers me up better than watching 1776. While I'm watching those I'm also on the computer or stitching something.

The second is to turn on music. How can you possibly feel down when you're listening to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy or Tom Lehrer? Of course, I'm on the computer, reading or stitching while listening to said music.

The third would have to be the computer. Now that I have a genealogy program, I use that a lot. Before, it was mostly surfing or trying to write. Of course, the television or music is on in the background.

So, the fourth one is stitching. It makes me feel like I'm putting my confinement to good use. It's something someone will hopefully love and find either useful or beautiful. What I make should cheer them up. Also, I have this little problem called ADD. I simply must be concentrating on more than one thing at one time to keep sane. Weird, I know.

The fifth is reading. I pretty much ordered these in reverse, saving the best for last. I have actually been stitching more than I've been reading lately, but reading is and always will be the most important. I've read since I was two years old. I literally cannot remember ever not reading. While I may have the music on while I read, it's the only one of my coping methods that I can do without one of the others. I can and usually do read without anything to distract me at all from the story.

This little exercise in self-discovery came about last night. Mom, Grandma and I went shopping for the last of the Christmas presents she needed to get everyone. I pushed Grandma around Penney's and we picked out the items for three of the cousins (1,2 and 5). Grandma was told by TAFH (who is really much nicer anymore, but I keep that tag only to continue descriptive purposes) not to get anything for cousins 3 and 4 because she was going to get them gift certificates and put Grandma's name on them. Then we went to pick out Mom's present.

While we wandered that way, we figured out that the only people left after Mom were my brother, me and his two children. Grandma said she wouldn't get the kids toys or clothing. Well, what's left? As for my brother and I, suddenly we weren't grandchildren and were getting only her traditional $5 gift in our stockings. A short argument/discussion ensued which she completely blew off. Mom and I gave up and Grandma and I went to get Mom's present while Mom made herself scarce. We got it and afterwards I managed to convince Grandma that we could at least go over to the men's section and see if anything jumped out at her for my brother. Mild drama (her picking at me and my taste in everything, as usual) and we got my brother a shirt.

Then I suddenly realized she hadn't gotten anything for TAFH's hubby-type-creature (who should be sainted for living with her if they were actually Catholic). The men's t-shirt and underwear area at Penney's is not conducive for shoving a wheelchair around, let me tell you. However, we finally settled on something and Grandma paid for her booty. We left the store without anything for me or my niece and nephew.

As we walked to the food court where I was about to have a piece of pizza and damn the gluten consequences we tried again to convince her to get something for the kids. She insisted that they weren't grandchildren, even in the face of the great-grandchildren argument. Apparently, my nephew made the fatal mistake of saying that he'd put the $5 he got last time in his piggy bank, which impressed the hell out of Grandma. I guess she thinks this means he will only want that, even though he really loved and squeed over the toys and books he got last year. She totally ignored the fact that they're kids and will want something, anything to rip open on Christmas.

Anyway, I got my pizza. Mom stole a bite and even though she hadn't wanted any, she got one for herself because it was soooooo good. It was ham and cheese stuffed pizza. I finished mine and she brought half of hers home to eat today at work. As we wandered back to Penney's so we could get to the car, we passed Gertrude Hawk's. I stopped and asked Grandma if she wanted any Smidgens, but she said she wanted fudge. I got two pieces of fudge for her. This did not please Mom, who is justifiably upset that her child and grandchildren don't seem to rate in her mother's eyes. I just figured it would be nice since she doesn't get Gertrude Hawk's very often, you know. Mom and I had already decided to get gifts and put Grandma's name on them for the kids. I did tell Grandma that she had damn well better treat cousin 2's kid the same way she treats my niece and nephew. But she won't. She'll dote on the little mite when she's born. It's predictable.

When we got home, I read. I didn't bother turning on the television, even though I knew I'd be missing two of my favorite shows: Numb3rs and Stargate: Atlantis. I read a book I had just gotten at Target when we stopped to get Christmas cards. It was a good book, too. Lara Adrian's Midnight Awakening. I could have turned on the television and stitched, but I chose to read and miss shows I ordinarily am very annoyed if I miss. I guess Grandma's attitude really got to me.

Oh, I told Mom this morning not to get me a gift and put her name on it. As an experiment, I want to see if anyone will notice that I am the only person without a gift to open on Christmas. Maybe then they'll believe me when I tell them some of the things she does. If they even notice, which I really doubt. TAFH might notice, but that's it. She actually believes us when we tell her some of the things Mrs. Hyde does.

The worst part is not that she doesn't think we deserve presents. It's that lately she's been pretty good. Mrs. Hyde has poked her head out briefly each week, but not to this extent. Not even after her fall. We've been joking this week about the present she'll get me. I keep joking she'll get me a book or a gift certificate for a book and she does her whole too many books routine. It's a running gag. Well, I guess the joke's on me, now.

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