By Caroline MacGillivray
I. YOU’RE SO GIFTED
It is not a myth that moms prefer handmade gifts. My own mother turned up her nose at the Vogue-worthy handbag I bought her for Christmas last year, but the toothpick log cabin I made while procrastinating to study for finals moved her to tears. Her remark as she placed “Caroline Cabin” next to a priceless antique: “Kate Middleton doesn’t have one of these.”
If Dad is the type to take a work call within ten minutes of sitting down to open presents– “what do you mean, the interns took today off?”–just get him a tie. Really, he is not paying attention.
Grandparents get a Frank Sinatra box set, scented candles, or a tree ornament. They have no idea that you bought them the exact same thing last year.
Unless you are especially close to a particular relative, aunts, uncles, and cousins do not need to receive gifts. The honor of being related to you should be enough all year round.
II. CHRISTMAS DOES HAVE A DRESS CODE
Vineyard Vines does God’s work. Go into the store. Pick anything. There is your outfit.
If your relatives are Kennedy copycats like mine are, there will probably be touch football involved. Typically jeans and a sweater will do the trick.
The Queen says, “red and green shall never be seen” (unless there is tartan involved). Take it from the assortment of nude royals we have seen this year–follow the Queen’s example to escape heckling from the international press (or even from the neighbors, who are chatty enough.)
The other day, my father got an invitation to a Christmas party reading, “Jacket and tie required.” The fact that those guidelines even need to be stated is evidence that our society is deteriorating.
III. LESSONS FROM MY DECADE AND A HALF AT THE KIDS’ TABLE
At twenty-four and twenty-seven, the second and third eldest grandchildren in my family just graduated to the big table this Thanksgiving. So if you are reading this, you still have ten to fifteen years left.
The kids’ table wobbles. Just make sure Grandma has read the magazine you’re about to put under the short table leg, or she will get short with you.
After five minutes trying to make conversations with reluctant cousins, you will realize that they are not talking because they have been texting under the table the whole time.
The elementary school student seated on your right probably has more interesting things to say than the college graduate seated on your left.