The City That Breeds » Schadenfreude » IT’S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS


Ron Swanson

Fellow citizens of the City that Breeds, we’ve all heard that when it comes to gifts “it is the thought that counts.”  I love this phrase.  It is a good and strong phrase; a useful saying, especially during the holidays. When I unwrap a box of shit I don’t want, this beautiful phrase is even, dare I say, salvific.  It frees me from becoming angry at the giver who didn’t invest enough time getting to know me so that he/she would understand what kinds of gifts I might actually enjoy.  It releases me from having to emotionally punish said stupid giver for being a complete moron when it comes to all that is me.  It redeems me from spending the entirety of the coming year associating the bad giver with the ridiculous gift.  Thus I declare “It is the thought that counts!”  to be a wonderfully helpful phrase at Christmas.  Long live “It’s the thought that counts.”

But my fellow citizens, what should one to do when one has no idea what in the hell the giver was thinking?  What is a gift receiver left with when the mind of the giver is a complete mystery?  What am I, your friendly-neighborhood-self-appointed Bishop, to say when the gift is so bizarre there is no justifying the giver’s actions?

Example: my sister.  My sister has Down’s Syndrome.  But this is no excuse!  She is very high functioning.  She has a job at a craft store where she mostly restocks shelves.  Her speech is rough, but if you know her you can usually figure out what she is saying with minimal effort.  She has lots of friends and loves social occasions.  But when it comes to buying gifts for me, I have no idea what she is thinking.

She is fantastic at giving gifts to my kids.  She picks out wonderful, age appropriate toys they are always extremely excited to receive.  She wraps them nicely with easy to remove bows on top.  But for some reason when it comes to giving gifts to me…. insanity ensues.

One year for Christmas she gave me a VHS copy of Mary Poppins.



Come on!  I’m a grown ass man.  I’m not going to be watching any supercalifragilisticexpialidocious shit. Not to mention that this was long after DVDs had become the standard viewing format.  I did not even own no damn VCR.

Another year she gave me a loud, obnoxious, floral print journal.  It was not decorative floral print either.  Not the kind of floral print that someone might see and think, “Oh, he’s so creative.”  No.  It was “grandma’s 1950’s couch” floral print.   I can’t use that.  Of all the journals on the shelf, why would she choose the grandma one for me?  Why?

The kicker though, the most confusing present of all time came my senior year of college.

On Christmas day, as is our family tradition, we all gathered around the tree and passed out the presents to one another. Per my mom’s decree, we took turns opening gifts so she could see each one.  When it came time for me to open my gifts, my beloved sister presented me with a long, thick tube.

It did not shake.  It did not bend.  It was a solid mass.

Mystified by what the contents of the tube might be, I began to unwrap it.  Sheet after sheet of various colors and prints of Christmas wrapping paper came off the tube.  Like an onion, there seemed to no end to the layers. Each time I fought through another coating in pursuit of the core, the diameter of the tube decreased slightly in size.  By the time I was finished I must have removed at least one-and-a-half rolls of wrapping paper and two rolls of scotch tape and the cylinder was a shell of its former shelf.

“And what to my wondering eyes did appear?” you ask.   “What was under all the Christmas wrapping paper?  What was it my sister thoughtfully purchased for me, her eldest brother?” you want to know.

At the center of the all the mound of Christmas paper I found another roll of Christmas wrapping paper.  The shrink wrap the store had wrapped it in was unbroken.  The price tag still adorned the top.  It was blue with waving Santas on it.

That’s right.  crappy gift

For Christmas my sister gave me a roll of wrapping paper. My sister trolled me on CHRISTMAS.

Upon finishing the project of revealing the gift, I held it up to her in confusion; but she simply replied with a smile, “For you.”

“Uh.  Thanks?” I said and placed the roll in a corner.

And in that corner the roll stayed for another week as my Christmas vacation marched on.  But then the time came for me to return to college.  So I placed my suitcase on the couch and began to pack.  I went to the dryer to retrieve a load of whites, and what did I find in my suit case when I returned?  Why the tack-ass roll of blue wrapping paper with waving Santas of course.  The lid of my bag was closed and the tube protruded from both ends.  My sister was nowhere to be seen.  I removed the roll from my case, took it to another room, returned to my suitcase, and continued to pack.

After some time, again I heard the buzzer of the dryer.  Again I went to retrieve a load of clothes.  Again upon my return I found the roll of wrapping paper in my closed suit case, protruding from both ends.  Again I removed the roll and placed it in another room.

This repeated over and over.  I made lunch, came back, there was the roll in my suit case.  I went the bathroom – roll is back in the suitcase.  I went to let the dog in – tack-ass roll in my suitcase.  I turned my back for three seconds – tacky-ass roll in my suitcase.  Over and over and over.  Tacky-ass roll in my suitcase.

And I was never able to catch her in the act.  No matter what I tried.  I never saw her once.  That overweight Down’s kid had magically transformed into a Christmas ninja.

Finally, when I knew no one was around I put an end to the game.  Knowing my sister’s refusal to do exercise of any sort, I laid down on the floor and jammed the tacky-ass roll under the couch where I knew she could not reach it without massive effort.  And I thought, that evening as I boarded the plane that victory was mine.  I was returning to college and the tacky-ass Christmas wrapping paper stayed behind.

How wrong I was.  In the end though my sister had the last laugh.

The following year my family once again we all gathered around the tree.  Once again we passed out our gifts to one another.  Once again we took turns opening presents so my mom could see each gift.

My sister gave me a bag of coffee…wrapped in tacky-ass blue paper with waving Santas on it.


christmas trollface

Filed under: Schadenfreude · Tags: , , ,

  • Leftwingcon

    OMG you may rot in hell for this one!

    • And with my luck Hell will be wrapped in blue paper with waving santas.

  • Anyone else remember getting a *really* shitty present from like their grandmother when you were a kid and actually getting upset about it, like crying upset, because you know you had to thank them but it was *such* a shitty present and they’re just old and didn’t know any better and waaaaaaah – one time I got a She-Ra jigsaw puzzle and that happened.

  • boringman

    Great story.

  • Leftwingcon

    At least she didn’t buy you shityy underwear. Now that would be something…!