Monday, March 10, 2008

Mom's Christmas Present

I finally gave my mother her Xmas present-- I sort of gave it to her back in December, when I handed her a box with a slip of paper in it which I had illustrated to look like a fancy gift certificate for a plane ticket to visit her family. But I knew she wouldn't use it right away.
Giving my mother this kind of gift always ends up being a bit more expensive than I'd like, but it seems worth it. It's always a challenge to find gifts for my parents, but for my Dad there are always books and classical music CDs he wants, and my mom usually seems happy with jewelry or a gift certificate to her beloved TJ Maxx. But I would rather give my mom something I know will make more of a difference in her life right now. And since my parents live together in a state of barely contained warfare, a plane ticket for her is actually a gift to both of them, a gift of peace of mind!

Last week, my mom announced that she had figured out dates for her trip and said I could start looking for a ticket for her. Given my mom's destination, I'd always figured I'd just get her a one-way ticket on Jet Blue, and then when she was ready to come back, I'd buy her another one-way ticket for the return. In the past, she's spent more on ticket change fees than the cost of the original round trip! And of course the cheapest ticket for a direct flight was on Jet Blue. But there was only one direct flight, leaving at 8am. My mom said that was too early, as she's not a morning person and has a lot of makeup to put on. So given her constraints of not wanting an early flight, and not wanting any stopovers, her roundtrip ended up costing me over $400 instead of about $250. I was talking through some of the options on the phone with my mom, so she was aware that the gift was becoming rather pricey. At first I was a little annoyed because she just didn't seem to care, but by the end of the whole process she thanked me and sort of apologized for it costing more. She still wasn't entirely thrilled about her return flight being slightly earlier than she wanted (10am!) and said "oh well, I'll probably just end up changing it anyway!" She's on her own for however much that costs!

Part of me thinks, geez, don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Mom! If someone gave me the gift of a plane ticket, I might not love the time options but I'd take whatever cost the giver the least money, or offer to make up the difference if there was some reason it really didn't work. But this is my mom we're talking about-- she has always been incredibly generous with me, and everyone else in her life. And she's been having a rough time with my dad over the last few years. Longtime readers may remember the countless posts I've spent agonizing over my mother's debts and spending habits and the family stresses that are rooted in money. I suppose all of that is part of the reason I can't help groaning whenever I have to spend extra money on something, but it's also the reason I have to give my mom a break and just suck it up... until the next bit of family drama comes along!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

That sounds like my mother-in-law. She is never happy with what we try to offer her. Makes me not want to gifts at all. Just send a card ;)

julie said...

You're a great daughter, Madame X. Truly, I wouldn't have had your patience and grace.

Martha said...

I too commend your patience and generosity...you are a such a good daughter. I also wonder, do you think there's a way to do things differently, so you're not 'enabling' her self-sabotaging spending habits? I mean, we all can learn and change, no matter how old we are. Believing that it's just fine to spend an extra $100 - $250 so you have more time to get ready and put on makeup for a flight -- that's just not in tune with reality, especially in this economy. Just a thought. I'm trying to work on some of these issues with my parents, too.

RacerX said...

I didn't know we were related?!?

It sounds like you sent my Mom on a trip :)

Great advice, breathe deep and move on :)

Anonymous said...

i strongly agree w/ martha's comment.

Anonymous said...

And my mother-in-law! Just recently we gave her a gift card to beauty salon as a birthday present. When I was giving it to her, she said: "I hope it is not some kind of facial treatment, I can do those myself". Well,actually...

English Major said...

I agree that you were kind (and right) to accommodate your mom's quirks and also that she was being a touch too picky about the times.

I went to college on the West Coast, and before JetBlue opened a route to the city in question, there were never inexpensive direct flights, ever, ever, ever. My parents were paying for my regular trips home, so I did a lot of 2am stopovers in Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix...gift horse, mouth, et cetera.