Sibling’s creative gifts overshadow eager attempts

December 12, 2008 — by Aditi Jayaraman

It sucks to have an older sibling. Of course, we younger siblings ironically get the upper hand in deciding who has to take care of household chores – generally, we are “too young to know how,” or need “someone else to show how to do it first,” – and we usually get away with more than our role model siblings, who are forced to set a continuously positive example for us.

When it comes to getting the perfect Christmas gifts, however, we are downright hopeless.

I still recall Christmas 1998, when I thought for the first time ever, my polka-dot tie and Raggedy Ann figurine doll would beat my sister’s presents for my parents. On Christmas morning my parents decided to open my sister’s gift first, and then those terrifying words poured out of my mom’s mouth.
“WOW! A BLUE LAVA LAMP!”

“Where’s the nearest chimney I can fall into?” I thought.

Keep in mind that this was the ‘90s, when anything that exhibited patterns and was glittery or colorful was in style. In comparison, my gifts seemed silly and worthless.

During a more recent Christmas celebration, I decided to take a more practical approach to gift-buying. I proudly exited the mall with an automatic Belt and Tie Organizer from The Sharper Image (I don’t have an affinity for ties, I swear), and a tracksuit from Macy’s hanging from my hands.

Christmas morning ensued with smiles on my parents’ faces as they unwrapped my gifts to them. Success! I thought. When it was my sister’s turn to hand over their presents, she came out of our hallways grasping a huge rectangle. It had clearly been sent down from Christmas gift heaven. As my parents unraveled the wrapping paper, which had been carefully and trimly set relative to my slovenly executed job, I noticed what seemed to be a photo frame. In the center of possibly the biggest frame I had ever seen was my parents’ favorite photo from their wedding. I know what you’re thinking, but unfortunately at this time, our house was being remodeled and there was no potential chimney to fall into.

Still, that Christmas, I was granted the capacity to blame my sister’s creative gift-buying skills on her ability to drive, and my inability to do so. For me, buying presents up until that point had never been a secretive or independent process. In other words, it meant having my parents drive me to the mall, picking out a present while they kept an eye on me so I “wouldn’t get lost,” and having them buy it, because after all, they had the money.

This year? This year it is all going to change. I have a car. I am grown up. My piggy-bank is full, and I’m ready to make the best purchases a Christmas gift-buyer has ever made. A striped tie for my dad and a figurine doll in a track suit for my mom. Just kidding.

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