What you ask for and what you get: Lost in translation Christmas gifts

Do your parents miss the mark when buying you gifts? Have you ever asked for something specific and received something nowhere in the realm of what you initially requested? You are not alone.

With Christmas right around the corner, gifts are on people’s minds. I was having a brunch chat with a couple of my friends about the life struggle of telling my parents what I would like, and the lost in translation package that ends up under the tree. They assured me I was not alone. Their parents, God bless each one of them, do the same thing as mine. [Ryan documented one particular experience he had with his mother here.]

My mom is awesome. She is literally one of the best people on the face of the earth…but when it comes buying me gifts, her idea of what I would like and what I actually like are very different things.

I say: “I would like this exact Kate Spade bag.”
Mom thinks: “She wants a black purse. Great, they have a sale on at Costco.”

It obviously doesn’t help that I like brands and my mom is all about function. I bought her a stolen Louis Vuitton once and she was like “Hum, it’s kind of small…and I don’t know if this brown will match my jacket.”

Nine year old me: “I really love Tigger from Winnie the Pooh! Everything Tigger!”
Mom, 6 years later: “Merry Christmas! Here is a sweatshirt with Tigger on it! Nailed it.”

My mom has a memory vault of steel. Nothing escapes it. If I tell her I like something that is a flash in the pan trend, I need to prepare myself for the inevitable Christmas, five years from that point, when I will get that exact thing as a gift.

Me, in passing: “I never eat at home, therefore I have no food in my house, ever.”
Mom, needing to fix all my life problems: “I will buy Jes spices every time I come visit, then she will start to eat at home.”

Nope, sorry Mom. A gift is not going to fix my lifestyle problem. The reason I don’t eat at home is because I am lazy and financially irresponsible, not because I am lacking in spices. Anyone need some unopened Greek spice? I’ll hook you up.

I arrived at the it’s the thought that counts point about six years ago. I just let her get me whatever, smile and nod and if I don’t like whatever it is, she doesn’t need to know that. This year when she asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I said, “Whatever you get me is fine.” – as I always do.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t an acceptable response. I was to give her a list of items that she could buy me.

I only wanted one thing. That seemed easy enough. I found the link and went to send her an email. After thinking about the information she would need to really knock it out of the park, all the questions she may have – I built the following Q&A to really make this year easy for her.

It may be a little sassy for your parents, but feel free to steal this concept for any future gift idea requests (birthdays, Christmas, Hannakah, weddings, graduations etc.)

To: Mom
From: Jes
Date: Dec 1, 2015


1. What does Jes want? Over the ear Beats by Dre Solo2 noise cancelling headphones. LINK TO ITEM <– Click this to see the item and to order it online at your convenience.

2. Why does Jes want these? I’d like them for work, because no one can see my small earbud headphones when I am at my desk and then they get annoyed when I don’t respond to them when they speak to me.

3. Why does Jes want these particular ones? Because they are the best and they cancel noise so I will not get distracted by all my chatty colleagues.

4. What headphone colour would be acceptable to buy? Grey, blue, red or black – in that order.

5. Why does Jes want those specific colours? Because they will act as a placeholder for my personality while I am concentrating. People will be like, “That girl is concentrating hard right now, but her headphones suggest she is a really good time and probably extremely funny.” Also, my vanity does not stop at my hair…it carries on to the things that touch it as well.

6. Beats by Dre come in earbud style, can I buy her those? No. See answer to question 2.

7. Beats by Dre come in “studio” style, which looks like it gives superior sound quality – are these the headphones Jes wants? No. Those ones are around $400 – how greedy and entitled do you think I am? Also, they’re too bulky.

8. If I bought Jes some sort of substitute Beats By Dre because I went to the store and the sales person said that this particular brand was just as good, but significantly cheaper would she be OK with that? No. I have been planning on buying Beats for over a year. I would not be happy with a substitute.

9. But I tried on these other ones and they are $100 less and I don’t think there is a difference!! There is. Did Dr. Dre design those other ones to make your listening experience enjoyable, magical and badass? He did not.

10. OK, real talk. I don’t want to pay $250 for headphones, I think that’s a waste of money…will Jes be mad if I don’t get her the one thing that she asked for? No. Not at all. I  know you now are equipped with a very well laid out guide for my next birthday, which happens to be my 30th. It is then that I will probably have a complete mid-life crisis/nervous breakdown and Dre’s will then be required.

[Mom thanked me for the email…no word if I am going to be getting a pair of old walkman headphones from the attic quite yet.]



Jes spends approximately 25% of her income on brunch, really likes to laugh and is certain if Regina George punched her in the face she would not think it was awesome.

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