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My Married Life: My Mom's Go-To Gift

It used to be clothes. For years, clothes were my mom's go-to Christmas gift to me. My dresser overflowed with ill-fitting T-shirts and sweaters that would never see the light of day. Sure, I dropped hints to try to get her to stop. But it didn't work. Even though I never wore the things she sent, I'd hold onto them for years out of guilt.

Finally, after marrying Holly, I started donating them to Goodwill. Magically, the clothes stopped coming. It was as if I’d broken some sort of spell. I realized then that I was the one who’d placed tons of sentimental value on the clothes -- and that my mom really didn't care.

But here's the dilemma: Something had to replace the clothes. After Holly and I bought our first house, the dust (and my mom) settled on the category of home decor. Specifically, framed items.

Now, it will probably come as no surprise to hear that we have very different taste in art than my mom, who tends to gravitate toward inspirational sayings expressed in cross-stitch. Imagine decorating your entire house with framed and matted Hallmark cards. Are you with me? Oh, yes, our collection grows. This year, during our traditional Christmas Day family call, she said that she hoped Holly and I would find a nice place to hang this year's gift, as it held great meaning for her. That's when I realized I'd been better off with clothes. My mom had never noticed whether or not I wore a certain baggy, poly-blend T-shirt. But she'd specifically mentioned the "art." And since the last thing I want to do is hurt her feelings, I'm going to have to hang it up for the next however many years every single time she comes to visit.

So here's my question: Is there a tactful way to explain that Holly and I would prefer to make our own choices as far as decor is concerned? Or is our only choice to take one for the team and hang this particularly doily-licious art piece in honor of my sweet mom? I think I already know the answer to this one.

-- Jack

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