Cursed Shirt

My kids get new pajamas for Christmas every year—like most other kids.

It’s not an original tradition, but no matter how old my kids get, they still love opening new pjs on Christmas Eve. Back when I was more ambitious, I even used to make them, like my mother did before me.

Every year of my young childhood, on Christmas Eve we opened a present of new pjs lovingly made by our mother. One of the sets of matching Christmas nightgowns Mommy made for her first three little girls even inspired a nickname for my sister.

Upon completing the set of pretty blue nightgowns, Mom thought they needed a little flourish. She found some cute fruit applique patches that she sewed on the yoke of each nightgown. She used a banana, a pear, and an apple. When we put on our nightgowns, we noticed something funny. Without even recognizing it, the fruit Mom had put on each of our nightgowns rhymed with our names—mostly. There was Tanna-Banana, Kar-Pear, and MaRae . . . Apple?

She’s been known as “The Apple” ever since.

Anyhoo, when I starting having kids of my own I decided to carry on my mom’s tradition of homemade matching pajamas for Christmas, minus the applique fruit. For years I pulled all-nighters in the days before Christmas Eve frantically sewing nightgowns and footie pajamas out of novelty flannels, until the year my kids got old enough to say, “Why do we have dress like cutesy matching dorks?”

Now we buy them.

My mother eventually went store-bought too, probably because of some sarcastic comment we made one Christmas Eve that crushed her creative spirit.

For my kids now, I go with a pair of pj pants and a funny graphic t-shirt for the top. Over the years I’ve found some great shirts. A few years ago I got one for my oldest daughter that said, “I’m just one big freakin’ ray of sunshine!” which was a perfect cheeky description of her attitude at age fourteen. The next year she got one with a kid on it who was wearing earphones that said, “iTune you out,” which was also very fitting. Last year, I got one for my second oldest daughter that said, “Lost in thought. Please send search party,” which was a perfect description of her constant daydreamy state at age fourteen.

What’s with age fourteen?

Last year, I found the perfect shirt for my oldest daughter. She had gotten way into ballroom dancing and was on a competitive team, so when I found a shirt that had a cartoony couple on it shaking their booties with a caption that said, “Shake it like a salt shaker,” I knew I’d struck gold. I ordered it online and anxiously awaited its arrival.

But when the package arrived, it was the wrong shirt. The order form showed the right one, but they’d packaged something else, so I sent it back. I received a reshipment confirmation a couple of days later, but the package never came. It got closer and closer to Christmas, but it never came. I kept checking the shipping status which kept saying, “shipped.” I called and called again, and the customer service people assured me it was on its way.

It never came.

On Christmas Eve I went out and sifted through the scant picked-over selection and found something, but it wasn’t as cool.

After Christmas I called and cancelled the still-pending order. My money was refunded and I chocked up the fiasco to a busy holiday shipping season.

Then, out of the blue, the right shirt arrived in my mail in February. Maybe the elves in Santa’s shipping department should be required to have regular breathalyzer tests.

Since it was way after the fact and I’d already received a refund, I shipped the shirt back.

I try to be honest, not that it pays off for me much in this life.

So, this year, I’m shopping for cheeky sleepwear again, and I come across the same shirt. Since my daughter didn’t get it last year and she’s still shaking her booty on the dance floor, I decided to order the shirt again.

The package came in the mail yesterday, but it’s the wrong shirt—again! The order form shows the right one, but they packaged something else—again!

S’up with this shirt?

I should have kept the free one I got last February!

The shirt I did get is kinda funny. It says, “I smile because I have no idea what’s going on.” It’s cute, but it doesn’t really work for my oldest daughter. It would totally fit for my still daydreamy second daughter, but I already have a shirt for her I like better that won’t make her cry this year.


So, here we go again. I’ll return this shirt and try to get the one I really ordered—again.

But if, in the end, this whole thing results in an accidental free shirt, I’m keeping it.

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