Suppose there is someone--a family member, or, maybe, a longtime friend--with whom you've had a strong and loving relationship and to whom you have to give Christmas gifts.
Then suppose that for some valid reason--addiction, mental illness, criminal behavior--it's become impossible to like this person even though you still love them.
What IS the perfect gift for the person you care about, but no longer care for?
Sadly, some of us get to contemplate that question this year.
My second daughter, whom I adopted when she was 11, has had a chaotic life. Too many truly evil things happened to her in her first 10 years to make the next 25 years easy. In addition to a high level of continued emotional disturbance, 2010 was the year she turned to methamphetamines. That led to the state removing her children and placing them with their fathers.
She has yet to address her addictions.
Right now, she is angry at the judicial system, angry at the world in general, and, in particular, angry at me.
Needless to say, I'm not very happy with her, either.
But she IS my daughter. And I've never NOT given my children Christmas presents.
So--what to give her?
She could use a good pair of shoes, but the last time I bought her a pair of Nikes, she turned around and sold them. Ditto for any electronics.
I could save my money and skip the gifts for her.
Or I could be snarky and donate money in her name to some treatment program.
In the end, I got her socks, underwear, pajamas and a robe. My thought was that these were quintessential 'mother' gifts, having the requisite intimacy that befits a loved family member without spending a fortune or making it easy for her to come up with money for drugs.
Next year I hope to do better for her. But first, she has to do better herself.