Gift giving and the unexpected difficulties of living at home

Gift giving and the unexpected difficulties of living at home
December 18, 2016 Hunter

Gift giving and the unexpected difficulties of living at home

I live with my mother.

That’s probably an odd way to start, but it’s going to be an important part of the story, so you know. Bit of a preface.

My mother and I share many of the same interests, mainly film and watching said films. We’re currently doing the Oscar roundup – catching up on everything we’ve missed. A favorite pastime of ours is going to the Alamo Drafthouse. AMC and Landmark theaters and even Sundance have their merits but lack the Drafthouse charm.

Actually, San Francisco has a robust film community, something that surprised me after moving back from Budapest. I was immediately drawn to the San Francisco Film Society. For a modest yearly membership fee you gain access to advance screenings, become eligible to apply for film funding and you’re giving to a non-profit that supports local filmmaking. It’s great!

Which is why this holiday season I decided to buy my mother a membership. It’s a different kind of gift – nothing you can see – but something you can use. It’s unique. Specialized. A perfect gift for her.

So I get online and navigate to their website. It’s a strange process. The website is not intuitive – sorry San Francisco Film Society – and what would seem to be straightforward is not. At first it seems you can’t even buy a gift membership! Uhh, what is going on?

But it’s buried in there. I find it. Phew! I take great pains to make sure my mother cannot find out. Namely, using my email and phone number when it asks for hers. But I have to use her name. Alright, fine. And our address is the same, so I’m screwed there. But who sends mail anymore?

Finally, all info is correct and I pull the trigger. Christmas gift (at least one) complete!

Cut to:

One week later. And my mother is calling me at work. I answer and the conversation goes something like this:

“Did you buy a membership to the San Francisco Film Society on December 12?”


“Because I just got off the phone with them to buy you a membership for Christmas and they say you already bought one for yourself!”

God damnit.

“No, I did not buy myself a membership.”

“But they’re saying you did.”

Sigh. Am I really going to have to do this right now?

“I bought someone else a gift membership.”


I really am going to have to say it.

“Well it was for you, but now it’s no longer a surprise.”

Mom is happy. But quite perplexed. Why do they think you bought yourself a membership? I, of course, have no idea. More importantly, isn’t there some sort of registry that goes on with gift memberships? Like this person bought a gift for another person and so their name should be the one listed – and not the person buying the membership, because you know, it’s a gift? Shouldn’t there be some kind of notification?

I suppose our case was unique. Seriously, how many family members would buy themselves gift memberships to the same institution? I would hope many would – for San Francisco Film Society’s sake – but that’s probably not the case. And even if it did happen, they probably would not call the actual society to buy the membership. Nobody does anything over the phone anymore. Or so I thought.

“Well, I will call them back and we will sort this out. Thanks so much again, honey!”

I hang up and look at my two colleagues.

“So, get this.” I give them the breakdown. I expect an ‘Oh shit, man.’ Or ‘That sucks!’ Or anything that would jive with my current disbelief at what just happened.

But that’s not what I get. Because they’re laughing uproariously.

“You both got the same gift for each other? That’s adorable!”

Deep sigh. And that’s what I get for living with my mother.