For Christmas Latinos celebrate “Noche Buena” which literally means “Good Night.” In the night before Christmas (at midnight) when everyone from the rest of our globe sleeps and waits for Santa’s arrival in the morning, Latinos get an early visit from the old guy. After an incredible feast right before midnight on December 24th, we get ready to open gifts and dance through the night, to tunes that have been played for decades. My family gets together at my mom’s house for Noche Buena; everyone brings their large bags full of gifts, dresses up in the latest styles, drinks, eats, and deals with our fabulous gift recycling junky “Uncle Cholly.” He is the perpetual single! A true ladies man, fabulous and metro-sexual, always is showing-off with his latest’s conquest. His wonderful personality definitely does not match his lack of gift giving and serial gift recycling. His gifts are really nice and expensive, all true, but also recycled gifts left in packages inside drawers for months or years sometimes. The gifts are usually old love offers from current or ex-girlfriends, sisters, friends or by one of us kids. Although everyone knows his little tricks, my family chooses to say nothing to him, because they are dorks that truly believe is the thought that counts. Since I am the black sheep and everyone knows me as the big mouth, I make my dislike for his recycling noticeable. I believe that the thought cannot count, if you are thoughtless when you give a gift. I fight the man and make him as uncomfortable as I can, every time he recycles me a gift! My proper dorky family (when he is not looking and of course always behind his back) either wink at each other, or roll their eyes as a sign of disapproval for their victimization, and his recycling-compulsion.
I remember for my 17th birthday I got from Mr. Cholly himself, a totally cool swatch wrist watch. I used to collect them and had them in all colors! I thought he was too cool for words to give me what I liked and not what was gender designated for me. My mother on the other hand would buy me the little girly swatches! I was thankful for her generosity, but truly, I really wanted the big-bulky-boys-swatches, that made a statement and went beyond the fab. When my older brother saw my brand new swatch, he proudly announced how cool the watch was. He told me “our Uncle Cholly, the cool ladies man, had one just like it, which was given to him by his girlfriend. As kids we did not know anything about “gift recycling” and I just though I was cooler then all the other clones wearing swatches. I had a real cool watch just like my very cool Uncle Cholly had!
The years have passed and my uncle has become famous for his gift recycling tricks with all of us. He is now bolder and wiser in recycling, and knows all the little guides that make him a true “serial gift recycler.” He keeps the gifts for a few years before he gives them out. He ensures that the gifts match the person and the household that he is giving it to. Better then that, he never recycles any of the gifts that my mother or grandmother has given him, to us kids. What I hate the most is that he keeps the good liquor and never recycles his large perfume collection. He has a great collection of the best wines and perfumes you can imagine and I would love to get my hands on them! I do have to give the guy some credit; not opening gifts takes a lot of self control, if you like what’s inside the bag! I can hardly contain myself enough not to tear off the paper and the item itself, when am opening my gifts. I am like a bird of prey when it comes to gifts! I am totally out of control and open the gifts by ripping off the papers, until my reward is in my hands and I can breathe. It is all about the self control with this guy that I think I dislike the most! He slowly takes the tape off the paper, opens the gifts with such a delicate manner; and I know better then behind that gentle force, lays a true “serial-killer-gift-recycler” thinking of his next victim! What we have never figured out, is that some of the gifts are things he likes and still he does not open them. Will power and self control got to hate him!
He keeps all the gifts inside a closet and then gives them as present. We never know what he is going to give us? When one of us gets a gift from him, immediately we look at each other and see who is smiling first. The person that smiles usually is the victim of the gift recycling. We all get a laugh because he tries to act like he does not know we are all onto him. No one can be in that much denial or be so self-involved and completely blinded from reality for so many years!
I cannot understand how someone can give away something I have taken the time to select for them. It makes me angry to see how he has become a genderless-mindless-perpetual-recycle-gift-giver-cheap-skate with complete self control. It is almost scary to think that no matter what we give this man, it will eventually end up in my grandmother’s hutch, my brother’s garage, or on my daughter’s wall. But, is it better to recycle a gift or just let it sit there because you did not like it? Is he cheap or just thoughtless?
Last year I had a party to celebrate my graduation and he gave me a couple of bottles of Dom Perignon. He then had the audacity to suggest I wait and not open them until his 48th birthday party, a few weeks later! I thought he would never recycle liquor, but I guess in his old age, the old liver no longer tolerates the large amounts of alcoholic consumption he used to enjoy. I did wait and open the bottles later on that night, when only a selected group was with me and old Uncle Cholly was gone to sleep like the other old folks.
Learn some lessons from uncle Cholly, after a while people catch on to serial gift recyclers. Don’t end up like uncle Cholly this year! From me this Christmas he is getting two empty bottles of Dom, neatly wrapped and taped, and the recycle card he gave me last year!