By Renee Lorenz Special to Published Dec 12, 2012 at 2:43 PM

I suck at Christmas.

This has been a well-known fact for some time. I'm not a Grinch by any stretch of the imagination, I'm just not very materialistic. I also tend to be pretty practical, commercially speaking, so anyone who's tasked with the dreaded chore of shopping for me thinks I'm awful.

OK, I'm exaggerating a little. The few friends that put me on their gift-getting lists always find a way to present me with something imaginative and useful – things I'd never buy for myself, but are all awesome – and I love them for consistently outdoing themselves.

My mother, on the other hand, still insists on packing the tree skirt with "A Christmas Story" levels of store-bought bounty for my brother and I – so naturally, I frustrate the Christmas cheer right out of her on a yearly basis.

She finally mustered up enough composure to ask me what I wanted for Christmas yesterday, probably already anticipating the worst. Last year my response was "money," since I had (and still have) a long slog up Mt. Student Loan Debt to conquer. She wasn't pleased. The year before, I think, was "money and DVDs." A little more creative, but not enough variation for her liking.

This year I asked for contributions to the laptop fund. (Please don't mistake this, like she did, with me asking for a whole laptop – I'm not a jerk. I've been saving up on my own; I just need a little boost.) I wouldn't even be looking for a replacement, but I'm almost certain my 7 -year-old iBook has developed arthritis, and I've begrudgingly decided it's time for the cumbersome little guy to retire.

Like clockwork, she replied with the now-traditional "But you won't have anything to open on Christmas!" line (I swear to God, it's my house's version of "You'll shoot your eye out!"). So, like I do every year, I relented and assured her I'd try to come up with a list of cheap crap she could add to the pile o' presents.

But, I'm legitimately afraid of the death glare I'll get if I hand over my ultra-practical, completely un-whimsical list of stuff I want. So, I'm posting it here – not so much to gauge reactions, per se (I know it's full of terribly un-Christmas present-y things, and collectively it comes off so much worse) but maybe it'll serve as a public pick-me-up that, no matter how hard-to-buy-for your friends and family are, at least they're not me.

My Pseudo-Christmas Wish List

If I'm going to go practical, I might as well start with the most needed, yet most hated Christmas gift. The bane of every kid's existence, I could actually use some – specifically for running, but some nicer ones to go with that pair of flats I still need to justify buying.

Even though 90 percent of my existence is digital, I can't stop writing stuff. I absolutely must have my old-school day planner. I take notes at the movies for my reviews. I even write on my hand on occasion to remember which level of the parking structure I left my car on. But, for some reason, I find myself perpetually in need of a spare writing utensil, which is ridiculous and needs to stop.

Totally un-whimsical. Totally necessary. To be fair, this is kind of an inside joke because my dear mother, in her infinite thoughtfulness, is constantly passing along tampon coupons that – were I to use all of them – would result in a reserve supply that would make any hoarder jealous. But really, almost nothing says "thoughtful" more than saving me a trip to the store for a box of these bad boys. Unless you buy me this. Then you're dead to me.

Air filter
My car is kind of like me. Reliable, kinda stylish in its own way and fairly low-maintenance. But when it breaks down, holy hell does it take a lot of time and money down with it. The last time I took it in for an oil change the car tech told me it was due for a replacement air filter, so I figure I better get on top of that before, you know, an episode ensues.

As far back as I can remember my mom has been giving my dad a jar of cashews as one of his Christmas presents. And, as far back as I can remember, my brother and I have been jealous and put up a fuss until he shared. And yet I've never gotten one, which is weird. What's weirder is my brother has – like it's some kind of dudes-only present. Well, I've been nutless for too long, godd*mnit. It's time for an equal opportunity Christmas.

All in all, I don't think it's that bad of a list. It's come together pretty well considering I've only had half a day or so to collect ideas. That's probably not how Mom's gonna see it, but hey – it's the thought that counts, right?

Renee Lorenz Special to

Contrary to her natural state of being, Renee Lorenz is a total optimist when it comes to Milwaukee. Since beginning her career with, her occasional forays into the awesomeness that is the Brew City have turned into an overwhelming desire to discover anything and everything that's new, fun or just ... "different."

Expect her random musings to cover both the new and "new-to-her" aspects of Miltown goings-on, in addition to periodically straying completely off-topic, which usually manifests itself in the form of an obscure movie reference.