Monday, December 7, 2009

It's The Thoughtlessness that Counts

Suffering from writer's block, enjoy another Christmas special recycled for your reading pleasure.
This ran in the Island Park News on December 5th.

Men are hard to shop for, in my humble opinion. Perennial stand-bys like clothing, hobbies, sports and power tools feel rather like Ken doll accessories. Men don’t have an old-reliable, guaranteed “Oh Yes!” type gift like chocolate is for women.

The shops that cater to men smell like ancient leather-bound tomes on a library reference shelf. Their wares are usually are dull brown with a hunter green trim. Even the names of men’s stores seem like an afterthought; like the owner set up the shop and then said, “We should call this something. This store is for men. How about ‘Man’s Store?’ OK! We’re done.”

My husband likes gardening, so I’ve used that crutch for years. Receiving “practical” gifts has ensured my beloved can garden, hedge and weed whack the yard with the best of them, but there is a bit of a let down with these sorts of gifts. In the dead of winter, getting gardening equipment is like receiving electronic toys with batteries not included. He has to wait until the spring thaw to play.

When not giving him a new trowel, I have also admittedly used this season of giving to take care of necessities he needed. But let’s face it; socks wrapped up in a beautiful box are still just socks. My husband deserves an Oscar for his enthusiastic responses to my presents. I may buy them, he many need them, and he may use them; but the gifts themselves lack that lavish quality borne not from the price tag, but from the pleasure that even a passing mention of them might evoke.

I suspect it is lot easier shopping for me. Consider the Christmas day phone call to parents. My husband phones his mom, saying, “I got a shirt, some fishing tackle, a football jersey and a cordless drill.” It does not sound as exciting or evocative as my equivalent, “I got Godiva, a red sweater, a new purse, and a silver cuff.”

He had me at Godiva.

Even decades of receiving truffles has not ever made me think, “You gave me this last year!” In fact, the one year I didn’t get chocolate, I spent the rest of the morning sniffing around the tree to see if I’d missed a present.

My low water mark in gift giving came ten years ago. I ordered a book for my mother for Christmas. My family was coming to stay with us. The week of my parents’ visit, my Mom talked about how much she had enjoyed this book she found in my old room. It was the same book I had ordered for her. My thoughtful husband solved the problem by popping into a book store for some opera CD’s for me to give to her. But as we sat wrapping presents for my family and his, I suddenly realized I hadn’t purchased anything for him.

On Christmas morning, when he opened his lone present from me, he read aloud the book’s inscription, “I was thinking solely of you as I wrapped this gift. Better presents in the years to come, Love, Sher.”

Spousal love, and the fact that I had given birth two days before, mitigated my error, but I now shop for him first no matter what the holiday. I know my long suffering husband deserves better; something exclusive and passionate and fun. Maybe I'll stop by Man's store and pick up a new leather wallet and a hunter green tie./


MightyMom said...

oh this is great!!

actually my hubby is getting what he asked for (PJs) a sweater. Not terribly romantic, maybe I should fill his stocking with peanut butter cups?

Dotty said...

Thanks for the tip--peanut butter cups---my husband loves those and I often forget to give him a candy treat too.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!