Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Amazon betrayed me


Last Sunday was my oldest niece's confirmation. I couldn't be there, because I'm going to see her next month, and I'm not made of money. This is one of the (very few, in my opinion) downsides of living 10,000 km away from your family, but that's life. 

Being confirmed is a big deal in our small town. You have to attend regular classes for a year, write a test, and if you pass it, you get a fancy black outfit and become an adult. At least in the eyes of the church you do. We all know that in real life, giving 14-year-olds the power of adulthood is a frightening prospect. 
(There are times where I don't feel ready for the responsibilities of adulthood - just keep reading.)


For the kids, the best part is all the gifts they're getting. It's customary for friends and acquaintances to give a small(ish) gift, receiving a cake in return. It's a great way to liven up the long weeks before summer, when nothing much is happening in town and people are getting bored and restless. 
Since my niece is a third-generation local with parents and grandparents having a business in town, I expect she got a great haul. 

Maybe not as great as what I raked in 23 years ago:
Towels and candle holders were very popular that year. Please note that I also received several sets of cocktail glasses, 3 hair dryers, and a full set of silverware (45 pieces!) for my dowry. Yes, dowrys were a thing in 1994. Maybe they still are? I have no idea.  


Also, I don't want to deprive you of the glory that was me at 14 years old, allegedly an "adult":
The outfit, the hair, the uncomfortable smile, the bow tie (my mom made me wear it*, I didn't want to) - there are no words. The 90s were rough. All I can say is, thank god this was before the invention of social media.
*My mom definitely has a thing for dressing me in short shorts and skirts. What's that all about, mom? 


Please keep my personal history with gifts in mind for the following, embarrassing story. Remember the towels and embroidered hankies, okay?

I knew that the jewellery-portion of the big day was covered by my sister, a goldsmith by trade. She wouldn't give that responsibility to anyone else, which is fortunate, because none of us would choose the right thing in her critical eyes. It's tradition for the confirmand to receive a gold cross-necklace, and maybe a bracelet or ring, and my sister bought them for her.

To be completely honest, I didn't start thinking about what to get her until less than a week before the confirmation. I'm a terrible aunt! (That's one of the many reasons why I don't have kids.)
Being so far away, the only option I could think of was to resort to my trusted Amazon. I've used Amazon for birthday- and Christmas-gifts for my German family for years, because it's easy and convenient, the main shopping-requirements for me nowadays.

Clueless about what to give to a confirmand these days (I doubted that towels were still a thing), I searched 'confirmation presents' in the Amazon search box. Not one of my proudest moments, and definitely one of the points in my life where I felt decidedly un-grown-up.
You know what came up? Books! Also some candles and clever ideas to give money, but as soon as I saw the books, I didn't look any further.
I love books, and I believe one can never have too many.
I chose one for my niece with great care: It's partly a guide into grow-up life (I should have bought one for myself), partly photo album, and partly a place for friends and guests to write in congratulations and well wishes. I would have loved it. And it got 4.5 stars! And lots of great reviews! And it says right in the product description: "With this book, parents, relatives, god-parents and friends definitely have the right gift at hand for the confirmation."

Sold.

Well, on Sunday night, my sister sent me a few photos of the day. It had been lovely, and she was still filled with joy and parental pride, giving me a pang that I missed it.

She also included this photo:

That's my niece, opening the gift her uncles gave her. You know what it is? A TV.
A.FRICKING.TV.
The tiny present next to it is my puny book.
I have never felt so humiliated. Did I get it wrong or what?

The only thing I can do to redeem myself is give her money, using one of the clever money-giving ideas I saw on Amazon. Except - on second thought, I don't think I can trust Amazon any more. It never told me that TVs are an appropriate confirmation-present now! I come from the towel- and glasses-generation, and it was Amazon's responsibility to inform me of the new ways.

Amazon betrayed me.

So did the photographer by not eliminating this photo right away:
Please note the embroidered hankie. My book doesn't look so bad now, does it?


Adulting may be hard, but being a teenager was infinitely worse!


xoxo Miriam



Share:

9 comments

  1. You know what? I bet your niece loved the book because it reminds her of her book loving Aunt Miriam. And that book will out live that big fancy TV. Some of my favorite gifts are the random things people give me. Don't be too hard on yourself. Be hard on your mom for that bow tie and embroidered hanky ��

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha good point! I guess she wanted to prepare me to stand out, when all I wanted was to fit in. Not a bad lesson, mom.
      Come to think of it, I've bought quite a few books and audio books for my niece. I don't know how much she appreciates the books now, but hopefully she will at some point in her life. Books are such a special gift, I hope she will grow to love them as much as I do.

      Delete
  2. Your photos and memories are a lot of fun to look back on. This reminds me how I got beach towels and things like that as graduation gifts while kids nowadays get new iPhones and MacBooks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a crazy world, isn't it? I'm remembering those towels and candle holders quite fondly. I guess you can't stop the changing times, but I wonder how beneficial it is to give kids such expensive gifts at a young age. Things lose their value when you get them for free, and make kids restless and wanting more and more stuff.

      Delete
  3. First of all, uncles - plural - gave her the TV. They went in together on a gift. Second, the book will outlast the TV. Third, the book allows her to capture memories and customize to her heart's desire - the TV is just something you sit in front of and complain that nothing's on the hundreds of channels. Fourth, a book is much easier to move - someday when she's moving to a different dorm room or apartment or house every year, she'll appreciate that.

    The TV is glamorous and exciting but the excitement will dull. The book is classic. I think you did good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also, very cool that she got a TV, but does a 14 year old really NEED a TV? I don't think so.

      Delete
    2. Your kids are so lucky to have you as a mom, Amy. You're teaching them such great values! And you have an amazing gift to make people feel good about themselves. Thanks for your great advice, and putting things in perspective. You're a wonderful and wise woman! ❤

      Delete
  4. A TV? For making promises to God? Sounds like this generation really DOES have their priorities out of whack! Or maybe it's the fault of the uncles...er...adults...who encourage it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought it was over the top too. But what do I know? I'm apparently out of touch when it comes to gifts for kids. I think I've crossed into the older-people territory who don't understand "the young people these days" any more haha! Books are one of the greatest gifts for me, I'll never stop gifting them.

      Delete

Blogger Template Designed by pipdig