Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Gifts 101: Buying for the Spouse

Mollie writes:

We've had great Christmases, hard Christmases, fun Christmases, quiet Christmases.  Every year, John and I have learned a little more about each other during the holidays.  One tidbit is think about the recipient before you buy.

Our first Christmas was a harbinger of our future.  John gave me an engagement ring with cubic zirconia instead of diamonds, with a promise of real diamonds when we had a home and some money.  He delivered four years later when I delivered Peter.

I loved the ring and keep it under lock and key just as if it was the real thing, because, it WAS the real thing.  But some of the other gifts promised an interesting future.  One of them was a port-a-potty for hikers and campers.  A throne of my own with unstable legs and a less than sturdy seat, wow!  I used it once and then promptly 'lost' it.  It isn't that I didn't appreciate the thought, it was just that there was nothing romantic about toting it on my back as we hiked through the Cascades.  So a word to the wise, avoid any Christmas gift that involves relieving oneself.

Another poor choice of Christmas gifts was the pair of Bigfoot slippers.   What can I say, they were ugly!  John, Peter and Roger bought them at some discount warehouse where only the unsellables are featured at extreme discount.  There was a reason for the discount: nobody wanted them.  But we have a picture of a very annoyed Mollie that Christmas with her feet furry and her toenails long.  Yuck!

It's not to say that I didn't give John some real turkeys, not at all!  I understand his love of all things electronic, and when we were young, I'd give John something electronic.  The problem was that I just didn't know what he would like, so the day after Christmas, John would take the offending piece of crud back to the store and then race over to another electronics store to buy something much more functional. My feelings were always hurt.

When I finally got the message that my choosing an electronic gift just wasn't working, I switched over to clothes.  Another mistake since John detests anything remotely resembling wardrobe additions.  Giving the man a sweater for Christmas was tantamount to giving me a port-a-potty.

So, after at least 10 years of marriage, we finally figured out what the other person wanted.  One year I gave John a ticket to attend a Stephen Hawking lecture.  I'd have purchased two, and gone myself, but they were expensive and I couldn't justify the expense of my ticket with our pitiful budget.  Another year, I gave him kayaking lessons, and another year I gave him didjeridoo lessons.  It turns out that if it involved learning, John loved it.

He also likes tools, so, since moving to Whidbey Island, I go to the local tool store and buy another tool. As it happens, John LOVES tools, even weird, useless tools.  And it's fun to go meet up with the folks there and joke about what John's getting this year - frankly, it's a tradition.

John has learned that if it involves gardening or cooking, it's a keeper.  I have more odd gardening tools than anyone ever needed, and I love them all.  And I have every conceivable kitchen do-hickey, some of them are in boxed storage, but I never know when I might need a cherry pitter!  These gifts are usually inexpensive and the best things under the tree.

We've been married so long that we now shop together for each other's Christmas.  This year, we gave each other an I-Pad and an electric foot massager.  There will be no surprises under the Christmas tree, no port-a-potties, but there will be two happy campers.  It takes the guilt out of spending a lot of money on ourselves when we include it in the Christmas gifting!

I'll write later about how we handle the kids and Christmas gifting.  And we have a family tradition that we call "Babette's Feast" where I go crazy in the kitchen.  More on that later.  But for now, enjoy spoiling your significant other creatively.   It doesn't have to cost a lot to indulge the other person, just be sure the gift represents the gifted!

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