The other day after work, I undertook the fun that is returning clothing — some that I had bought myself, some that I had received for Christmas.

First order of frustration — a few weeks before Christmas, I went in to the Gap with the intention of buying a pair of jeans. I had recently bought jeans at the Gap, and found the style and length that I liked and that fit me fairly well. Of course, by some awesome stroke of luck, everyone in the world with my short stature and wide hips had been in the Gap that week and had bought up my size.

So, I had no less than three different employees encourage me to order the jeans online. This was after the last clerk who helped me in my original jeans rampage encouraged me to try on all the pants I picked out, even if they were the same size and style, as there can be variations. This is not my anger issue.

I found a pair of jeans that worked and later went online to browse the sales. I found some overdyed dark jeans in the same style and size as what I’d had before, ordered them and a t-shirt, and went on my merry way.

When everything arrived, big surprise — shirt was too small (acceptable), and seemed of cheap quality (less acceptable), and the damn pants were too small and too long. I take ownership of the too long, but the too small pissed me off. Had I tried the damn things on in the store, I wouldn’t have had had to either return them by mail, or toddle off to the store to return them in person.

However, since I had to do another return — this one from Christmas — it was no problem to me to go to the store. Especially since that way, I know the return is being processed immediately and nothing can get lost en route.

Now, pause break in this boring narrative to explain why this second part bothers me the irrational way it does. For as long as I can remember, I have hated returning gifts. Even as a kid, when my grandmother would buy me something I didn’t like, it pained me to go to the store with my mom and find something to substitute in its place. And my grandma saw me once a year, so it’s not like she was super-dialed in to the vagaries of the 8-year old me’s so-called “tastes” in clothes.

Furthermore, I am fairly loyal to particular stores when I consistently find clothing items there that I like and that fit me well. I like Laura, Reitmans, Smart Set for some thing, Gap for some things (which is really only a recent addition to the shopping list) — and that’s usually about it. I have a very hard time finding clothes that I like and/or are willing to spend money on in most of the other stores, so I don’t waste my time.

Now bear in mind again that this next part is irrational and I realize that completely. This makes no sense to me, so I don’t expect it to make any sense to anyone else.

But I get really irrationally upset when people buy me clothes that aren’t my style (and to some extent my size, though that’s more forgiveable by far) but especially when they come from stores I *never* shop at.

Several years ago my other grandmother bought me some dress pants from the Gap. In a size 14 – when at the time I think I was still in 8/10s. Not only did these pants not fit, but when I belted them on in an attempt to make them work, I somehow had a giant square butt. Fortunately I was able to return them, but I was then left with a gift card for a big chunk of change to a store that I never shopped at that took me about two years to eventually spend, if memory serves. And that was only when my mom basically dragged me in to get new jeans, which I balked at spending $60-$70 on.

My mom is also guilty of this; she’s bought me clothes at Mexx, which I never shopped at — I did manage to make one work and returned another, but I still have on hand a sweater I have yet to wear, because the other half of my neurosis is an inability to throw out or give away clothes that someone gave me as a gift, that I didn’t return because I thought I’d wear it, that I never wear for whatever reason (too fitted, weird style, too bright a colour, something).

I got hit with this again this year — for some reason lately, my sister has been insistent on trying to buy clothes for the DH and me for Christmas. She bought me two “sweaters” (I call them that because though they seem to be made from some sweater-like material, they are lighter and thinner than t-shirts, not to mention incredibly shapeless), and a blouse. The blouse worked well enough, but the sweaters were simply not going to be worn, so I had to go and return them. Because of the nature of Jacob stores (leotarded), I had to find a “boutique” one and return it there. And because of the aforementioned leotarded policies, I now have in my possession a gift card to a store that I think I’ve set foot in twice (now three times) in my lifetime.


My family likes to give gag gifts on occasion, and they’re all well and good, but the frustration I run is the neurosis about hating to give away gifts, coupled with the loud voice of my DH about how much junk I own. He focuses mainly on my books, but I feel that way when I look at the things I’ve received as gag gifts — at what point is it acceptable to get rid of something for which I have absolutely no use? I can appreciate the sentiment and the humour behind it, and not everything I receive is useless, but sometimes it just is.

Sometimes I get gifts because someone felt they had to give me a gift (like a family friend I happened to see on my birthday, who gave me something very generic that would’ve been old 20 years ago). I appreciate the thought behind it, but it went into the donation bin that same day — and my DH gave me a hard time about it. Huzzah.

So sometimes the same people who give me a hard time about owning too much stuff or being too sentimental about things are a) contributing to it, and b) being just as guilty of hanging on to things out of sentimentality as I am. I do make some harsh calls sometimes – like throwing out the needlepoint wall-hangings my aunt made for me when I was a baby – but it needs to be done. I still have the teddy bear that she made me when I was a baby, and that’s more important to me.

Anyhow, I know so much of this sounds so very ungrateful of me – but I’d really rather get nothing as a gift than something that was just purchased because you couldn’t find anything else (like the etch-a-sketch). Really, I’m not that materialistic, and I don’t think I’m that terribly difficult to buy for. Especially when I had a short list of DVDs I’d have liked.

Just watch; next year I’ll be lucky to get a “Merry Christmas” after all of this whining!


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