Did you keep the receipt? The guilt of Christmas gifts

Obviously the best thing about Christmas is the presents. Sure, we’ll mumble on about family, and Christmas cheer and get togethers and you know, the baby Jesus, but in the cold light of January, when you’re still picking pine needles out of the sofa and relenting and eating the strawberry roses (but just the chocolate bit, you can actually eat around the smelly strawberry bit, if you know how) it’s the presents that count.

I cleverly wrote a Writer’s Gift Guide back in December, aimed purely at directing my family to what I really wanted. It kind of worked and today, I show you what I got. I don’t mean this to be a ‘look what I got post’. Seriously, people who do that (especially kids) should have no friends. But the presents have been sitting unopened because I wanted to post about them – to record them and to say thanks, to my lovely family and friends.

Receiving gifts related to blogging and writing has been more inspiring than I can say. Our ‘did you keep the receipt?’ marriage damaging situation was less inspiring, but more on that later.

First up in the blogging gifts received this year is this:

notebook lynn

I love stationery and apparently my sister found it really difficult to get a nice notebook in our middling size town, so I’m chuffed with this. When you have a nice notebook, you’re more likely to fill it with lots of writery notes. Also, I have to because she addressed it to me like this:

lynn notebook

I have arrived. My family have accepted me.

Next up is one the best presents I’ve received in years. Practical, portable, and a bit of a surprise, because it’s on the more expensive scale. Thank you @supasambo. I will aim to take amazing pictures from now on.

camera

This next present I think is my favourite, favourite overall. It’s personal, practical and sends out a very poignant message I think.

cup

Can you believe it? An actual mug with my mug on it.

blog about you

This is not a lie. You don’t even have to be nice to me, I’ll blog about you anyway. Thank you to the husband who got this made for me. Wow. I haven’t even drank tea out of it. I don’t want to dirty it.

The final present I was gifted, writing wise, is a controversial one. It caused a bit of a kerfuffle and a bit of an upset on Christmas Eve.  It was this:

typewriter

A vintage typewriter. With a lovely message from himself. What do you think?

Well, you see….. when I was a kid, my grandparents let me and my brother have an old typewriter that my aunt would have used back in her secretarial training days. It was in good condition and we hammered away on it, waiting patiently for something called ‘a new ribbon’.

While we hammered away, nothing actually came out on the bits of paper we’d stuck in it, but we kept going anyway, dreaming like Dolly Parton, waiting for the day when ink would actually come out the keys and we could print messages for each other.

WHAT. DO. YOU…. WANT. IN. THE. SHOP. ?.

One day, our Dad appeared home with a ribbon for the typewriter, no mean find in the 90s when Amstrads were all the rage. We set about installation immediately and when everything was ready, we started hammering again.

But nothing ever came out. Ever. Except on our fingers. In black and red.

So despite my best efforts, and many tries, I eventually got tired of pushing the heavy keys and pretending I was typing and just wrote out my stories using a pen instead. The typewriter got put in the spare room, and then probably the garage and I hope, but couldn’t be sure, that it’s in Typewriter Heaven now.

So…. when this present was produced and I pressed the keys and I heard himself say, ‘it just needs a new ribbon,’ instead of being excited and beaming and as happy as he was, I had a rush of bad memories and a flood of guilt that I just couldn’t hide. My face said it all.

“You don’t like it do you?” he said, his own face falling, right before mine.

And what could I say? I couldn’t lie. I couldn’t express all the emotions that I had tied up in this big chunk of metal. I couldn’t explain to him that I had just set up my desk and my office space and a large old typewriter wouldn’t fit beside the apple mac and my stack of books.

“I can take it back,” he said, practically. And I mentioned how I’d had one as a kid and it never worked and it was probably for the best.

Oh the form. Christmas Eve. Stomach dives. Our marriage scattered among the ripped wrapping paper around us.

We sat in silence, both thinking our thoughts, me thinking I was the most ungrateful wife in the world, him reaching for the Captain Morgan’s because, for the first time, since the blanket gift incident, he had disappointed me on Christmas Eve.

And then I put a picture of it up on Instagram and a load of people said ‘wow’ and I had a bit of a rethink and I decided that if I could get it done up, get a typewriting expert to fix the ribbon so that it did what inky ribbons do, then maybe, maybe it would actually fit nicely into my office – a relic and representation of what I do and who I am, a gift from the man who loves me and supports everything I do in my passion that is writing.

Remember, it’s the thought that counts.

So I told him I’d keep it and now it’s under the desk waiting to be fixed. As a footrest. I knew it’d come in handy.

Did you get anything nice for Christmas? Do you know anyone who fixes typewriters? Comments below. Cheers!

6 Comments on Did you keep the receipt? The guilt of Christmas gifts

  1. I actually think it’s a fantastic present.

    I have a typeright older than yours (you can see it at my instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/_1cZm_E6ch/?taken-by=jazzfeathers) used to belong to my granpa and I fought like hell to keep it. I think for a writer this is like a 1800s coin for a coins collectors.

    Try not to think what happened in your past, but what happened in the past of this objects. What people wrote with them and what they wrote. We don’t write in the voice, people came before us and will come after us. These old typewriters are like a little link in a big chain 🙂

    • Wow you have a really nice way of looking at things – thanks for that – you’re making me look at things differently. I know, it was such a thoughtful present, and I really am grateful. I guess your past does affect you though. A collector’s item! And I never thought about the other writers past! Thanks for your lovely comment xx

  2. What an amazing present!!!!! I typed all of my first bits and pieces on a petite typewriter and THEN my aunty gave me one of those real type writers you described : from secretarial college. The “e” and “a” didn’t work but I LOVED it. The same aunty bought me a real honest to god proper electric typewriter for my 21st. I adore your notebook and the inscription reduced me! How perfect.

    • Thanks for your comment Gwen (sorry for late response, I’m a disaster). Wow, you really were like Dolly Parton typing away! The e and a didn’t work? That left for a lot of half words! I’ve used an electric typewriter – that’s what we learned to type on in school and it was great. I know, it’s a big deal when your family start to see you for who you are (you really want approval from them, don’t you?) Thanks for your comment. Are you writing yourself?

  3. That is so true about wanting approval. Its’ not even realised a lot of the time either. I write for parenting magazines up and down and the odd short story. There are longer projects half formed in my head but unfortunately school runs and sleep get in the way.

    • Tell me about it. I didn’t touch anything for years and then BAM last year, I just started back. It’s a lovely way of escapism though I think. Like reading. Well I’d love to read some your work Gwen, if you do decide to put it out there. I’ve set up a new Facebook group called Aspiring Authors, can send you a link if you like. Although social media is just another time suck away from writing!

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