All I Want For Christmas

-by Michael
It’s that time of year.
A time dreaded by most, cherished by some, known to all.
It’s shopping season.
Across the nation, people are either scheming last minute purchases, critically reviewing their already-bought gifts for loved ones, or building up a tidal wave of anger and panic and confused productivity by procrastinating/forgetting to wrap it up before Christmas Eve.
Except for me – because I’m married to Joanie.
This means two things. First, our mutual Christmas shopping ended some time before February 1, 2012. Joanie likes to get it done early – super early – and take advantage of the post-Christmas sales, which I frankly think is awesome even if it means that my little brother has a good chance to get a twelve-pack of socks for the third year in a row.
Second, it means that I do not get to get her a present.
Now, I get to *give* her a present. I do that all the time. But it will be a present (or a series of small presents) that she has already picked out.
See, Joanie hates surprises. Period. She was the kid who always found the secret stash of presents and opened them well before-hand – both hers and her sisters’ – so that she wouldn’t be taken off guard on the Big Day. I can just picture the toe-headed version of my wife whose picture is plastered all over my inlaws’ house sneaking about with a pair of scissors, hunting under furniture and in the top of closets, surgically removing the Scotch tape and carefully replacing it once the contents of the wrapping paper have been revealed.
I, on the other hand, love getting surprise gifts. And I like to think I’m at least somewhat good at it. I like to get things that reflect how well I know the person, or something reminiscent of our relationship, or a gift-card to Starbucks. OK, so I’m not really all that good at it, but I like to try. Which always makes our gifting-dance interesting.
Last year, for instance, I actually hid her present at my office at a coworker’s desk in case Joanie ever came around to work and tried to find it there.
This year, she’s getting a ‘combo-present’ – and an awesome one, at that. Our families went in together and got my wife Lasik surgery – as of tomorrow, no more contacts, no more glasses! But I still wanted to get her something myself, and I wanted it to be something I knew she would love.
So when we went to the Columbus Circle Christmas Fair, I paid close attention to which odds and ends, delicious candies, and pieces of jewelry stood out for her. We wandered about for a couple of hours, oohing and ahhing, and by the time we left I had a fair assortment of four or five things that all could have been perfect mini-gifts.
And over dinner she proceeded to think out loud about how she could make all of those herself, none of them would fetch more than a dollar at auction, and that nobody should buy stuff like that at the fair because it’s just not worth it.
Sigh.
She saw the look on my face, of course – I’m not the most subtlest of creatures – and said, “Wait, you were going to buy me something we looked at, weren’t you?” We had a good laugh, she asked me to get her a pair of wet-weather boots as a ‘something extra,’ and I agreed. I think it’s only fair, after all, that we alternate holidays – I got to surprise her with something last year, this year will be utterly predictable, and next year I’ll surprise her again. One of those “You say ‘Tomato’” things, the trades that make .
One of these years, though, I’ll get her a surprise that will knock her socks off. Tickets to a once-in-a-lifetime performance. A stunning piece of custom-made jewelry. A pink pet mini-elephant holding tickets to a once-in-a-lifetime performance and wearing custom-made jewelry. TWO Starbucks giftcards.
Whatever it is, it’ll be great.

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