Monday, December 15, 2008

A2A Teen Years: Ghost of Christmas Past

Tip of the Day: Looking for gift suggestions? Visit for links to lists of book recommendations, and check out the rest of my post for my recommendation.

Welcome to A2A: The Teen Years, where we explore our inner teen and dredge up those memories that work their way into stories. This week, we'll be blogging about our best and/or worst holiday gifts as teens, so feel free to join the party and share your own gift triumph or disaster in the comments.

What was my worst Christmas gift ever? Something homemade from a well-meaning aunt or age-inappropriate from Grandpa? Oh, no, mine was way worse. I qualify for that teen angst memory "boyfriend you're about to break up with buys you expensive jewelry."

The fact that I was seeing this guy in December wasn't entirely coincidence. He was a football player, and in my high school, wearing a guy's football jacket was the height of cool. I was slightly bothered by the chauvinistic ownership message implied by the whole football jacket thing, but you know, it was football season and those blue and gold jackets were really nice looking. Plus most of my friends were on the bandwagon and I was on the rebound from another breakup with my "on-again, off-again for four long years" high school boyfriend. But by Christmas, I'd realized that the jacket was cooler than the offensive lineman who'd asked me out. He'd seemed like a nice guy at first but time was revealing him to be jealous and possessive, the kind of guy who wanted to know where I went with my girlfriends (so he could show up unexpectedly) and why I didn't call him if I was going to be five minutes late getting home.

So I had major misgivings at Christmas, but how do you break up with someone on Christmas? I was learning that he had a bad temper too. I had to plot my escape carefully if I wanted to avoid a high school scandal. I'd play it cool at Christmas and break up with him before the New Years parties. And then he presented me with the most gaudy piece of jewelry I've ever seen. Seriously. It was an elaborate ankle bracelet that was meant to be worn as a necklace with hearts and freshwater pearls and our names engraved and every Long Island bell and whistle you can imagine. And here's the quiz: what was the worst aspect of this present?

a. He was so interested in draping me with another object with his name on it that he never noticed that I didn't wear jewelry.
b. It cost a chunk of money, and he didn't work because of football practice, so where did the money come from?
c. Engraved means non-returnable, right?
d. Now he was going to be twice as pissed when I broke up with him, and now I obviously needed to do that right away.

So I broke up with him, and on our first day back to school from the holiday break, he got suspended for ambushing my ex-boyfriend. Then he started driving by my house real slow at night, around the block, over and over. Then I was really scared because I'd have to get my parents involved, and my father was likely to go out there swinging a bat Sopranos-style. My father always got me the best Christmas presents but they'd usually fallen off a truck in Manhattan somewhere if you know what I mean. Oh, he wasn't mob connected, but he'd lived and worked in the city all his life and he'd picked up what he'd had to pick up. My suburban linebacker didn't stand a chance, but there was no way I wanted my father in trouble for my stupidity.

Well, in real life, it all worked out. My ex-boyfriend's friends convinced him he was being stupid and he got over his temper tantrum. It wasn't like we'd been together for more than a few weeks, so it blew over quickly. But in the fictional universe, if I ever finish the story I started about it, it will escalate, of course. Because such a traumatic (and ugly, did I mention ugly?) gift should at least be fodder for a story.

Do you want to avoid bad-gift trauma? Books are the perfect gift (you probably knew that!), and I'm psyched to remind you that A2A's Lisa Schroeder's novel Far From You goes on sale December 23, in time for your holiday shopping! My top reason to buy Far From You for the holidays: you can have it shipped from Amazon right now instead of waiting until December 23. Check it out at I'm hoping my husband ordered my copy. I wonder if I should search the house for it?

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer


Lisa Schroeder said...

"But by Christmas, I'd realized that the jacket was cooler than the offensive lineman who'd asked me out."

Ha - great line! And great story. It's so fun reliving those days when we weren't worried about paying bills and whether our pipes will freeze or not, but instead life's important stuff - shall I ditch this guy now or later? :)

Emily Marshall said...

Cute post Kate. Glad things worked out and he calmed down a bit.

Kristina Springer said...

Ah-- so much to comment about!

LOVE your post! Love the football jacket=coolness thing! Ha-- so remember that stuff. Wonder if it is still true?

Still laughing over the engraved anklet. That is so so bad.

I once dated a guy who drove one of the truck things dropped off of! :-) I seriously did not realize it until right before I stopped seeing him.

My dh ordered Lisa's book for me too! :-) Whoo hoo!

Kate Fall said...

Tina, the truck driver, huh? Were you in Chicago then? You've probably had enough corrupt Chicago jokes to last you a lifetime after this week.

Kristina Springer said...

Yes on Chicago! Ha!

DeenaML said...

Oh Kate, this is great! My hs stories are lame-o!

Christina Farley said...

This is a great story! Made me laugh. But poor guy. He was really obsessed, wasn't he.