The most disappointing gift I can remember getting was given to me as a child for Christmas although my reaction to it says more about me than it does about the person who got it for me (probably my mum, but I was very young it could have been anyone). It was a bright red sweater with the Teletubbies on it.
Let's just get this out of the way first. No kid enjoys getting clothes for Christmas. It's a terrible gift for a child. At that age, clothes are a liability, something you put on for no discernible reason in the morning and try to avoid getting stains on. All clothes represent to a child are the risk of getting yelled at. And clothes received on Christmas day have the added stakes of being a gift making them double the liability.
That being said, I was very unhappy with this bright red teletubbies sweater for two reasons. The first, I felt I was too old for it, probably the first time I felt this way about something. The other reason was I felt it was too girly. The colour was too flamboyantly bright and my stupid young brain had decided that Teletubbies was for girls.
The first reason, whilst a legitimate reason for disliking the sweater, wasn't really anyone's fault. I can imagine it's pretty hard to tell when a kid feels like he's outgrown something whilst still being, you know, a kid. The difference between a kid who's into Teletubbies and a kid who's ready for some more mature Cartoon Network fare like Ed, Edd and Eddy must seem pretty minute to a fully grown adult.
The second reason was pretty stupid. As far as I can tell by looking at the Teletubbies, nothing about them suggests they are meant for girls. There's male and female teletubbies and they mostly sit around eating sugary pink goop and watching the televisions on each others' chests which probably would have sounded like an awesome time to my boyhood self.
The strange thing is, to this day, I still think of the Teletubbies as being a feminine show. Intellectually I know this is a dumb position and I wouldn't try to defend it for even one second, but I can't stop my brain from making the association. It's like a switch was flipped in the basement of my brain as a child which makes me think of Teletubbies as being for girls and it was never flipped back.
Because the thing is, I totally watched the Tealetubbies as a child. I ate that shit up. I sang the theme song, I enjoyed seeing the confused face of the baby in the sun and I loved that sentient vacuum cleaner (still do). So why did I one day decide it was too girly for me? When did I come to that decision?
The answer is probably that The Teletubbies is all cutesy and about friendship and love and all that dumb stuff society tells us isn't for boys. Not all that mysterious, really. What is interesting though is this belief has somehow followed me all the way to adulthood. I can never really be rid of the impressions society made on me when I was a child. All the lessons I subconsciously learned can only be unlearned very slowly, if at all. They're something I can push against but they're never something I can be completely free of. That being said, it was still pretty rude of me to immediately and loudly say to my mum I didn't like the sweater.
Kids are so shitty.