Wednesday, December 19, 2012

28 is a Tough Number

One of the things I love most about Christmas is giving gifts. I enjoy it so much that even I (a typical man who despises shopping) gladly spend hours rummaging through shelves and displays to find toys and games for the grandkids.

It's so easy!

So what is it about twenty-eight, you ask?  Twenty-eight is an important number.  It's the number of years that I've been happily married to the most wonderful woman alive.

And that's the problem.  It's tough!  Think about it for a moment from a husband's perspective.
  • 28 birthdays
  • 28 Christmases
  • 28 Valentine's Days
  • 28 anniversaries
  • More than 28 Just because I love you days
  • And an unspecified number of "I'm sorry" gifts added to the mix.

The problem stems from my need to give my wife something different each time.  I yearn to be original, but originality has become elusive.  Like a writer groping in vain for the truly unique story, this husband gropes in vain for yet another unique Christmas gift for his wife.

And it must be the right gift.  Something she wants or needs.  Something she'll love or treasure.  Something that says "Merry Christmas, honey, I love you" and nothing more.  Trust me, ladies.  Our gifts say nothing else.  Honestly.

We guys simply do not possess the mental capacity to meticulously evaluate every implied nuance of every gift we choose.  It's just not in the DNA.  We're not attempting to project any subliminal messages via the gift; we're just trying to make you happy.

We can't be trained.  Educating us in the finer aspects of gift-giving is futile. Our memories will never retain your dress size and we know better than to ask.  We have no idea what kind of shoes you want or what your favorite fragrance is this month.  And please don't ask us to stand at the cosmetic counter.  The cashiers and assistants only laugh at us.  The jewelry department clerk can't equate our estimation of "about this big" with a ring size.

We've learned that crock pots and vacuum cleaners and steam-press irons are unacceptable, whether you need them or not.  We dare not purchase anything that must fit.  (We have no clue what's in style right now anyway.)

Telling us we should know what you want and like is as helpful to us as assembly instructions written in Swahili.  And spending more time with you, while enjoyable, won't fill our brains with your unspoken desires.  Osmosis doesn't work.  I know.  I've tried.

We guys are more than happy to draft a list of suggestions from which you can choose ours.  We really don't understand why it can't work the other way too.  Please, make it easy on us, ladies.  If we still haven't figured out why you cried or laughed or gave us the silent treatment last month, then what chance do we have with this?

But alas, I shall do as I've done before, as I shall do yet again.  I'll burn three tanks of gas on my quest.  I'll search through endless aisles and malls, eliciting scowls from shoppers, frowns from clerks, and pity from those who share my plight.  I'll ponder and fret until my stomach twists itself into a pretzel.  For love demands nothing less.

And to think, Valentine's Day is less than two months away.

45 comments:

  1. Oh, man. Kinda makes me glad I'm not married yet... heh heh...

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    1. LOL, but the good in a blessed union does far outweigh the bad. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

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  2. Too bad I'm a dragon, cannot help you. Dragons are easier (for dragons, of course). I still can't understand the expectation for men to be experts in osmosis and divination. Humans are so complex. But I trust you'll be successful just because your wife's love will make any gift of yours wonderful. :)

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    1. Sure, what dragon wouldn't be happy with a little gold and a virgin or two, right? Wives are far more finicky. But yes, our greatest gift to each other is dedicated, committed love and we exchange those gifts 365 days a year.

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  3. I guess I'm one lucky dude - my wife does give me a list. I get everything on it and then some, to surprise her. And I do know her favorite fragrance - all two dozen of them.

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    1. Yes, you're lucky to get the list, Alex. And smart for adding to it.

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  4. I love this post! It shows how much you really do love your wife :)

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    1. Thanks, Carol. I had to obtain her editorial approval before posting it though. LOL

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  5. I'm the woman who has a list of stores (and coupon for those stores) where he can find exactly what I want cheapest. I'm never surprised on Christmas morning, but I like it that way.

    I hope you find something special for your wife!

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    1. Every husband's dream: a woman who knows what she wants, from where and for how much. Of course, the dream becomes nightmare when hubby has to deduce it unaided. ;-) Thanks, Emily!

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  6. I'm a frank woman, I say if you can't think of a gift, get a gift certificate or give me cash. Also I'll give you a clue if you ask. Not into being cryptic. That job's for wizards, puzzles and Math.

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    1. I've actually done the gift certificate before. And despite my best efforts, may be relegated to that again. I still have a few days though. My stomach has a few twists to go. hehe

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  7. Oh and I'm 28! Just reached the 2-8 this past November. Congrats on 28 years of marriage Jeff.

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    1. Many thanks, Sheena. They have truly been the twenty-eight happiest years of my life.

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  8. Wonderfully funny post . . . and you have my husband's sympathies. However, I do give him a list . . . he just has a tendency to lose it and not want to tell me. Sometimes I e-mail it to him, even though that feels slightly obnoxious in the "you can't lose this one unless you delete it" kind of way. He always wants to give me jewelry or chocolate - something that his sisters would love. But I don't wear much jewelry and I can only eat little bits of chocolate . . .I love books, and always try to steer him that direction, but I know if I ask for a nice sweater . . .he'll panic.
    BTW - you guys are just as hard to shop for even if you do make lists - my husband will make lists of tools with exact specifications and the only way I can find them is to ask someone in the tool department of a hardware store - and those guys know how to scowl, laugh, and shake their heads too.

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    1. Wow, losing the list has got to be the worst of all situations for any man! And yes, please refrain from making him panic. It's not pretty.

      But when it comes to hardware (and similar) stores, my wife's actually quite comfortable there. Often times more so than I am. Growing up on a farm has its benefits, I suppose. You're probably right though, from a female perspective, of course. ;-)

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  9. I tried really hard to get my loved ones gifts this year. I think I've done pretty good with an ecosphere, car wash gift certificates, and some custom-made chocolates and jams. My loved ones are extremely picky.

    Have a Merry Christmas.

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    1. It does sound as though your selections are distinctive enough to apply to "picky" loved ones. I'm sure they'll be happily and well received.

      Merry Christmas to you too, Michael!

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  10. Oh H and I make it easy on each other-- stuff stockings and that's it. We're always saving up for some kind of new, more-expensive "thing" we want (this year it's an elliptical or treadmill) and forgo the gift exchange. Stockings are fun though-- bunches of little things that let you know the person is having fun thinking of you. Good luck with your quest. My guess? Your love for her is the best gift of all-- the "thing" just doesn't matter. :) Merry Christmas, Jeff.

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    1. Thanks, Julie. That's good insight. I'm obviously the best gift she could possibly ever receive, a fact I remind her of on occasion just so I can hear her laugh. The stockings are a good idea though. I've done the scavenger hunt, the endless trail of clues, purchased everything from candle assortments to a car to Sally Sue, princess among Basset Hounds. I've not done the stocking thing.

      And thus the husband pondered possibilities...

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  11. My human, Gary is much like you and always tried to give his wife something different, something unique, for every occasion. One Christmas, he tried giving her the gift of him doing a 'comedy' routine. I believe she divorced him soon after that...

    Think it's great you go to so much trouble. I reckon a lot of dudes frantically go to the gas station on Christmas Eve, just before closing and grab a box of chocolates :)

    Pawsitive wishes and have a good Christmas, Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star! :)

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    1. "One Christmas, he tried giving her the gift of him doing a 'comedy' routine. I believe she divorced him soon after that..." I feel so guilty finding that funny, Gary. I'm sorry--on so many levels.

      I have cut it kinda close before though. Questing and failing in search of the perfect gift. I think the gift she'd appreciate most if me shaving my pseudo-beard. LOL

      A merry Christmas to you as well, Penny & Gary. ;-)

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  12. I gave up a while back and started buying people gift cards. Have to admit I enjoy receiving them too!

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    1. I've done that too. It really isn't a bad way to go. It's just that I can't stand repeating my gifts to people--especially to Myra. A fluke in my genetic code, I guess.

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  13. I make it easy. Books. Get me books. Get me Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift cards. Yay! But I do believe my hubby has the same deal where he wants to find me something new or something I had no idea I needed. I appreciate that he tries. But I like books. ;-p

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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    1. Sometimes we guys do put too much pressure on ourselves. :)

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  14. I always go for sentimental practicality. Something they need and will use, but something that tells them, "Hey, I've loved you long enough to know what you need without saying a word."

    I'm going around to all of the wonderful blogs I follow to wish you a Merry Christmas. Have a safe and happy holiday, Jeff!

    Peace,
    ML

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    1. I used to be excellent at doing just that. Maintain that record while staying original has become my bane.

      And a merry Chistmas backatcha, Mike.

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  15. lol! This has to be the best post I've ever read. My husband tries to tell me this every year, but the way you laid it out like this, I think I finally understand. Good luck on your quest, and when all else fails, just take her on a date because more than anything else I bet she just wants to spend time with you :)

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    1. I pulled up this comment while in the doctor's office waiting room and showed it to my wife. "See!" I said, pointing. "See? She gets it. She understands. Her husband is going to be so much happier now." I then gave her the pleading puppy dog eyes and whimpered silently as I watched her laugh.

      Hope you and your husband have an excellent Christmas!

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  16. you are the sweetest! no wonder you got on santa's list more than once! being married to a writer must be very romantic! sigh...

    merry gift giving!

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    1. Tara, I showed my wife this comment too. I leaned in close to her and bounced my eyebrows as I asked, "Is it, honey? Is it romantic being married to your writer husband?"

      She laughed so hard I thought I'd need to escort her out of the waiting room. (She assured me later that it was, but I may need a little more convincing.)

      Have a safe and happy holiday season, Tara!

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  17. Wow-- you sound incredibly sweet!

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    1. I think so too. ;-)

      Merry Christmas, Randi!

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  18. I love giving gifts this time of year, but even as a girl, I agree, it can be hard to shop for our loved ones sometimes! I never fail to be paranoid about what they'll think once I do finally manage to find something for them. Good luck picking out something fantastic for your wife! :)

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    1. Thanks, Heather! Gift giving really is fun. I like to run some kind of game when the family gathers at Christmas Eve. Last year it was Christmas trivia. This year I'm planning a Christmas-themed pictionary/charades game. Folks win stocking-stuffer-worthy (wrapped) prizes/presents. It's a lot of fun.

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  19. I tried leaving you a comment, but the blog gremlin is stalking me today.

    ASK HER WHAT SHE WANTS, then go online, find a store that has it. Preferably several of it, so she'll have a spare (but hide the spare so you can pull it out and say "I love you" again when it wears out). Wrap it up with something she wants but didn't ask for as a bonus. Like a book, or a movie she enjoyed, or even a bundle of cash/gift card. You know if she enjoyed a movie you took her to, you know if she laughed and danced over a book she got from the library. You know her favorite color (or if you don't, look through her closet)

    Now I'm going to end this, because I feel the blog gremlin looking over my shoulder.

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    1. You didn't let those gremlins get wet, did you? Or feed them after midnight?

      Ah, I did ask. Repeatedly. Threw my best puppy dog face at her. Her lips were as tight as Joan Rivers'. But alas, I think I've succeeded. :-)

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  20. I shall keep this in mind and have pity on my husband and tell him. *Smirk* Mostly because I kind of know how it is, as I have a brother who NEVER tells me what he would like. He's impossible to shoppe for, and I stalk the stores until my brain hurts looking for something.

    I hope you find a great gift for your wife!

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    1. Thanks, Jack! For those of us who do love to give gifts, it really is important that we give something that will be liked and appreciated. Hope you succeed in that regard with your brother too. And welcome!

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  21. stay out of the dog house!! good luck with gift finding...it is like russian roulet sometimes! :)

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    1. Thanks, Tammy! I suppose the whole quest may be as much my own doing as hers. Despite the frantic pace and perpetual puzzlement, I do still rather enjoy it. ;-)

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  22. Now that is a lot of gifts! I don't mind making lists :-) My gifts always seem to be expensive though... Tolkien Society memberships, Sandman boxed sets... On the other hand, I wouldn't say no to a breakfast basket of breads and cheeses either! Oh, wait, cheese is expensive. Darn! And that's without even thinking of the rest of the family. We should all just get each other Lego.

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    1. Yes, it is...a boatload of gifts. It does seem though that nowadays, more things than not are on the expensive side. All hail commercialism! :)

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  23. I admire that you try. My husband, The Engineer, is horrid at giving gifts. After the third kitchen appliance, I told him no more gifts. I'd get myself something if a need arose. It's worked out magically for us. Oh look honey at this gorgeous necklace you picked out at the street fair! it's going to be my Christmas present!
    Tina @ Life is Good

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