merchant mariner families








...a highly unusual, sometimes maddening,
but mostly comical way of life.







December 06, 2013

birthdays, christmas, and swag...oh $%*#

    
I have what one would call a tight family.  Besides hubby, there's just my mother and father now, and I lovingly refer to them as port-a-parents as if I could put this tiny family into my pants pocket and take them wherever I want to.  (In all actuality that's a pretty big stretch considering I can't put anything in my pockets once my jeans are on)
     Beady on the other hand has an extended family that would put The Duggars to shame.  His parents, couple of sisters, a gazillion aunts and uncles, couple of grandmothers, and cousins up the ying-yang, I mean up the ying-yang.  It's gotten so I just assume everyone new I meet in Maine or northern New Hampshire is somehow related to my husband.  And my mother-in-law (Sweater Girl) has this crazy sixth sense in that she can "sniff" out a relative in a crowd, even if she's never met them before...but maybe it's not such a superpower considering the odds are clearly in her favor.  Even at our wedding, the contrast in size of family was so marked I had to ask if some of them would sit on my side so I didn't look like Little Orphan Annie.
     Do you get the picture?  Then you can imagine that holidays and special days with Beady's family are...I can't really find the right word here...help me out...oh, I'll just use stimulating.  Growing up as an only child, I had always longed for the noise and love of a big family, but the first couple of times I visited with them, I felt like a cat that had been petted way too long and was about to bite and scratch its way out of the house.
     Beady and I started dating in the summer, he left for about four months and came back just in time for Christmas.  Over that span of six months, I got to know his family a little better through the occasional visit when he was home and when he went back to sea.  As the holidays approached, I suddenly realized that Christmas shopping was going to be a little more challenging as I would not only have to buy for my family this year, but that Beady and I would be getting things for his family as well.  So my list went from three people I knew intimately to shop for, to 20 or so I had a strictly superficial knowledge of.  And I certainly wanted to impress these people so Beady would keep me around, but was already beginning with a strike against me as Beady's last girlfriend had carved his heart out with a spoon, followed shortly by its consumption in front of everyone.  She was a woman, I was a woman, didn't matter that I was about a foot taller than her and probably could've stored the waif in my left thigh, I was a suitable stand in, especially for Callie

     Keeping this in mind, I struggled daily with what to get them and went back and forth with ideas that varied from Yankee Candles to brand new cars.  Seriously, I was desperate.  But what about Beady, you ask?  It was his family, wouldn't he be the logical person to go to in this time of great need?  Wouldn't he have the answer as to what gifts his family members, people he's known for thirty years, would like?  You're right, Dear Reader, and that's exactly who I went to, or rather wrote to, for the holiday advice I so craved.

     You know those moments in your life, the really definitive ones?  The ones you mark and even remember what you were wearing, the smell of a certain flower, the time of day?  Well, when Beady finally wrote back with his answer, the answer sure to unlock all holiday mysteries of the Clan Beady, there was a beautiful fire going in the fireplace, a steaming cup of coffee sitting next to my computer mouse, and I was cozy, cozy, cozy in an oversized sweater, toasty warm socks, and an irritatingly happy grin on my face because the sun was just too gorgeous and the leaves on the trees couldn't have been richer in their fall colors.  So as I opened his e mail, spirits high, anticipating a huge wave of relief as I just knew he'd have the answer, I couldn't have been more disappointed when I read "Sorry, Honey, I don't know what to get them, I'll think about it some more."  (He never got back to me with an answer.)  Really?  You can't think of even one gift to get just one of them?  Not even your mother?  These were the questions screaming through my brain, I just couldn't imagine he was so clueless about his family, his own gigantic family!  
      You might say I should've just left it to him, and believe me, I thought about that, too, but only for a split second.  Why?  Come on!  Who would've been blamed for his shoddy gift giving?  Me, and you know it.  Besides, there's no way I could've shown up with him knowing he'd shopped at Sunoco the night before for their presents.  And what would he even find for the kids there? 

 
Consequently, the day was burned into my memory because that became the moment when I realized loving Beady meant his family birthdays, weddings, Christmas, and whatever hell else you can think of celebrations would be my responsibility from now on...
especially when he was out to sea. 
 
     So I ran through that list and bought gifts for each and every person based on what little I knew about them, all the while cursing the man I loved, but simultaneously forgiving him as I was really, really, really in love.  AAAUUUGGGHHHH!!!!  I even endured "the show" as Beady swooped in minutes before the Christmas celebration and was smothered with oohs and aahs at his gift selecting capabilities that year.  (Remember I said I'd do anything to get in their good graces?  Well, keeping my mouth shut was the biggest gift!) 
      I wish I could tell you what I bought for them all, but I can't, although I'm guessing it went okay because Beady and I are still together.  And I'm also guessing it's still going okay because I've picked out the majority of their gifts ever since.  Certainly, on occasion, especially if I'm really struggling with an idea for a specific person, I get more than a little irritated with my mariner that he's left it to me, once again, with little to no assistance in the matter.  And though I know what his answer will be, I keep asking Beady for help and he keeps telling me, "I don't know, I'll think about it some more."  But that's okay because I'm pretty okay with it now remembering that if given a choice, Beady would always wish to be here helping me shop for gifts instead of being away so much of the time.  Besides, when I hand over the gifts and Beady's not home, I tell the recipient, "This is from me because I care about you way more.  If Beady really loved you, he would be home right now with a gift for you on your special day."  Sweater Girl loves it when I say that, Callie not so much.    
        

Copyright 2013 Callie's Mariner  

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