the best gift i've ever given

December 17, 2010

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dear readers,

i've got a special, special story for you today, one that i've been holding out on for the last two years.  it's a little private, so i've never shared it, but it's one of my all time favorite moments– it's the story of the best gift i've ever given (or, if you prefer, the most disgusting horribly insensitive inappropriate gift i've ever given.  you know, whichever floats your boat).

twas the night before christmas and all through the house...
...not a creature was stirring, not even me, our beloved protagonist.

it had been a long day of family christmas events.  when we finally got back to jon's parent's house i uncharacteristically begged and i pleaded, "please, don't make me go to midnight mass this year!" and as guilty as i felt for missing out on the family tradition, i curled up in my pajamas and fell fast asleep, drained and exhausted.


christmas morning i stared at the ceiling for a while and thought about going back to sleep but couldn't.  i crawled over jon and crept out of bed.

i couldn't go back to sleep because i had bought a pregnancy test the day before, even though it was still a day or two before my expected period.  it was itching at me to give it a try, even though i knew it was early and i probably shouldn't.  not exactly itching with excitement, just itching with that kind of nervousness that only a pregnancy test can bring a girl.  positive? negative? would that be a good thing? or a bad thing?

however in this case it would be a good thing, because we had been officially trying to procreate like, on purpose and stuff, a shocking departure from any year before when if i had been in the same situation i would have been hoping and praying for a negative.  suddenly i was thrown into wanting a positive- and it felt unnatural.

so i woke up early, by myself, and secreted my test into my in-laws bathroom.  there, i peed on it.  does that shock you?  it shouldn't; it's what the directions say to do.  and i sat on the edge of the tub like millions of women before me and stared off into space.  and maybe washed my face.  and walked all over the place.

a few minutes later i finally dragged my limbs over and picked it up, and looked upon it's ugly countenance with much trepidation.  and... it was negative.  only one line.  no plus sign for me.

boo hissssss.

i shuffled my feet back to our room, set the stupid thing onto the dresser, and climbed back into bed.  i woke up jon, and told him it was negative, and cried a little because it's just not fair, but really for no reason at all.  women, always crying for unexplainable reasons, you know?  i couldn't put my finger on exactly why i was crying and it seemed quite irrational– and unlike me.

we fell back asleep for an hour or so and arose later when i could hear the rest of the house stirring too, ready to do christmas things.  i stayed in bed snuggled under the covers and watched jon get dressed, too warm to move.


after laying in bed for another hour i finally wrapped up in a sweatshirt and made my way down to the kitchen, where everyone usually sits around drinking coffee and looking at the paper.  i still had the test on my mind.  no positive.  jon's sister jennifer and her husband were also staying at his parents, and they were downstairs already.  i shlumped down sleepily into my chair.  jennifer leaned over and whispered conspiratorially, "i think we win the bet," and with her smuggest possible face.

you see we had a bet going on who would get pregnant first.  it started out as a family joke, meant to inspire them to get moving on having a baby.  the bet was, whomever had their baby first, the other couple would buy them the gift of their choice.

pregnant.  they were pregnant!  she had taken a test that morning and just found out, probably only minutes after i had taken my own.  we congratulated them!  so exciting!  but we couldn't say much more about it to keep things hush hush for the rest of the family lurking around, especially jon's mom and dad.  it was weird to see them there, just reading the paper and eating breakfast, after such a dramatic announcement.

what? oh yeah, we're pregnant.  ho hum.  going to eat a bagel now.

i was unexpectedly emotional about it, sad about my own negative– even though we weren't particularly in any hurry to have a baby– even though the bet was a joke– even though it didn't make any logical sense.  the sadness, i had it.  a little while later i crept back up to our room to be alone.  i sat on the edge of the bed and picked up the test–

and there was a very very very faint... possibly... maybe... is it a?  positive?

you know that really annoying commercial, the one for digital pregnancy tests, that says that one in four women can't read a traditional pregnancy test?

i showed jon.  i took a picture and texted it to a friend.  they confirmed 100% that i am an idiot and that the test was positive, however faint it was.  i still didn't believe them.  we called jennifer and her husband in and told them what was going on.  i needed more eyes on this test!  though looking back now it seems so obvious, at the time i was bound and determined that it was negative.  they were LIARS, i was so prepared to be disappointed!  here i was, ready to wallow in my sadness and the unfairness of life in my strangely teary overemotional state, very exhausted... with my upset... tummy... and...


the four of us went to target, to grab a few things for the family gift exchange that evening but also so that jon and i could buy a digital pregnancy test.  when we returned home a few minutes later... dun dun dun... it was time.  i steeled myself and went into the bathroom alone, peed on my fancy-schmancy digital test, and waited.

and waited about 2 seconds, before it started flashing PREGNANT!!

i called in jennifer first and showed it to her, then jon, and our brother-in-law.

the four of us looked at each other.  pregnant.  at the same damn time.
what are the odds?

(and i haven't even gotten to the gift part yet.  holla!)

we were all a little bit in shock.  each finding out we were pregnant is huge enough– finding out we were pregnant at the same time the same day?  brain explosion.  there was a lot to think about.  but, it was also christmas, and as we started talking about it, this might be too good an opportunity for the group of us to pass up...

"what if we gave the tests to mom as her present at the family thing tonight?"
"hmmmm, i'm not sure..."
"it's so early, but it's CHRISTMAS! this is hilarious!"
"we have to take advantage of it. somehow."
"what about during white elephant?"

each year, jon's family of many many siblings and their spouses participate in a white elephant game, where you bring an inexpensive gift and anonymously throw it into the pile.  we draw numbers and get to choose your random gift, then trade them all back and forth, etc etc.

we wrapped up our pregnancy tests in disguised boxes and slipped them under the tree in the back so no one would know who brought them, and we waited.  and waited.  and waited.  it was hard to think about much else, honestly, even as we ate holiday foods and did christmas things.  they were in there, under the tree... waiting.  waiting to confirm the reality that had not quite set in yet.  a baby.  the jude!

hours and hours later by the time we were finally ready to do white elephant i was on edge, i think we all were.  they piled the all anonymously wrapped gifts, along with our urine (yay!), in the center of the room and drew our numbers.  two or three people went first without much happening.  every time they would reach towards the pile my stomach would churn like mad and we would all look at each other but the person would choose... not-a-peestick.  shew.

it was jon's youngest sister's turn, and she reached in and drew out jennifer's unmarked box.  she unwrapped it, opened it up, and pulled out... a pregnancy test.  the room was suddenly full of shouting and laughter.  "WHO'S IS IT?  IS IT POSITIVE?" and she confirmed, that "yes, it's positive."  everyone looked around at everyone else.  there were five women present who could possibly be pregnant.  all four of us guilty parties did our best to look confused and intrigued, and totally not guilty.  no one confessed.  no one in the room could decide what to do.  no one was coming forward so...  we moved on and kept playing the game, though the room was afire with curiosity.

another person drew and picked a present.  next it was dad's turn.  he took pity on jon's youngest sister, who looked pretty sad about her pregnancy test gift, and he used his turn to "steal" her gift.  that meant she got to draw again.

and wouldn't you bet that she reached her hand in and pulled out... mine.  two pregnancy tests in a row.  i thought my heart would stop beating it was going so fast.  she unwrapped it, opened it up, and...


chaos.  interrogation began.  one of jon's older sisters had a clue, i suspect, after we made eye contact across the room.  finally, after process of elimination it was getting down to the wire and finally we all came forward.

"i'm pregnant," spoke up jennifer, and the room erupted.

"but why are there two?" someone shouted out

"i'm pregnant too," i said, and jon's mom's screaming made the earth stand still.

birds three miles away jumped out of their trees in fright.  it was done, nine months later cousins would be born just three days apart, jon's youngest sister will never live down being the opener of two pregnancy tests in a row, and my ear drums will never be the same.

best gift i ever gave.

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