Why Holidays Give Me Anxiety

By Junior Editor Catherine Collentine.

I have a confession, Potatoheads: I am bad at gifting, and the holidays wrack me with anxiety. I freak out about finding the right gifts for everyone for literal weeks, saving things in virtual shopping carts and making extensive lists, only to buy something lame last minute and spend too much on shipping. Then when I get a gift for someone that I’m truly proud of, I spoil it. I get over-excited, like a Californian witnessing snow for the first time and can’t keep it a secret, inevitably telling that person what their gift is weeks before Christmas and Chanukah.

Some deluded part of myself can’t accept how truly bad at gift giving I am. That small voice tells me to have faith in myself, that this will be the year I blow them all away and make up for the last twenty odd years of unremarkable gifts. But really I’m stuck just in this dismal cycle of being aware how terrible my gift giving skills are and feeling too prideful to do anything about it.

To make matters worse, not only am I bad at giving gifts – I’m bad at receiving them, too. I’m the kind of woman who buys something the moment she wants it. My mother calls it being impulsive and reckless with my money; I prefer to call it an expression of self-love. As a result, I ruin numerous gifts people have planned to get for me. My friends excitedly watch me unwrap their presents, things I told them I wanted but then purchased myself, only to have me smile back awkwardly and ask if they included the receipt.

To add insult to injury, when family members ask what I want, I clam up and blurt out something absurd. It feels silly asking my family for luxuries I wouldn’t buy myself, say a Nespresso or spa day, things I’d truly value. They’re too extravagant; I’d feel like I’m asking too much. Instead, I get awkward and request a pair of socks or a food dehydrator. My family will, without fail, get me what I asked for, but spoiler: I didn’t need a food dehydrator. And socks, while perfectly respectable, are not exactly the most inspired gift nor are they fun to open on Christmas morning.

So what’s the solution? Well, to my family and friends reading this: let’s just make things easy on everyone this year. What do you say we skip the presents? You can buy yourself something you really like, and send me the bill. Make a donation in my name; I like charities that support small farm animals and women’s rights. Rest assured, I’ll appreciate that more than the microplane I claimed I wanted…

And what about you Potatoheads, are you as bad at giving and receiving gifts as I am? Please tell me in the comments…misery loves company.

Read more from Catherine – like why she gets emotional on mass transit and why she’s in a committed relationship with her coffee.