The gifter that keeps on giving very badly

There is a long-accepted seasonal stereotype that says that women love to give amazing gifts and men are incapable of doing so.

Chuckles abound each year as commercials, sitcoms and general conversation all imply males would happily — and haplessly — give vacuum cleaners and dish soap as Christmas gifts if our nation’s jewelers didn’t save them from themselves.

We are told ad nauseum that men give terrible Christmas gifts. When all the gals get together post-holiday to dish about the household appliances, socks and hand-mixers they received from their dearly beloved, but giving-challenged spouses, and roll their eyes in hilarity, I have nothing to add. I just sit there, sipping my tea and trying not to make eye contact.

I once gave a man I freely admit has EARNED the name “Mr. Wonderful” fair and square a coil of air hose for Christmas.

Enough said. I am a wife who gives really bad gifts.

Dress

Mr. Wonderful is the poster boy for “look honey, cologne!”

“A sweater!”

“A nice belt!”

All of the aforementioned being gifts for me rather than him.

He is an outdoorsy country boy who would go load the wood burner, wrangle a goat and then change the oil in his Sunday best.

GQ he is not. A nice cable knit is definitely not something he’d generally be pining to see under the tree.

Meanwhile he’s handy, and tools would be great except he’s got all the tools he needs — all the tools 10 men need, really.

He isn’t into electronics and high-tech toys. Not to mention that we’re both so frugal that we need a month of Sundays and extensive research before we’ll buy anything that could be considered a major purchase.

Thus, “Surprise! I got you a fancy new cellular phone/mp3/HiDef video backscratcher with foot massage and unlimited texts!” would be too much for our weak, cheap hearts to bear.

He’s not a sports/TV/DVD fan. All of those things would require him to sit still for more than a few minutes which rarely happens and if it does, he’s probably asleep.

Every year we pledge to “go light” on spending for each other, which should alleviate some of the stress. We are definitely not the “hey look I bought you a car!” couple so often depicted on TV.

Any gift that came with a payment book would be the gift that kept on giving all right. It would keep on giving us stress each month until the thing was paid off.
I’d probably just break down and cry.

More

Meanwhile each year he refuses to conform to stereotype and rather than grabbing a nice electric broom (which I would love, actually) or a blender (ditto the love by the way), he buys me something absolutely fabulous that I didn’t even know I wanted.

Last year, for example, his idea of “going light” was to come home with a brand new flat-screen television for the kitchen to replace the Paleozoic-era unit soon to be rendered obsolete by that digital-television-transition we couldn’t escape last year.

A television is not THAT big a deal you say? Wait! There’s more! The real gift was that the day after Christmas when other, lesser souls would have been content to nap in a pile of discarded gift wrap and rouse themselves only long enough to ingest a few more Christmas leftovers (I know I would have), he chose to remodel an entire corner of our kitchen to create the perfect niche for my gift.

I’ve got to say that it made the slippers and cologne boxed gift set I gave him look rather tame in comparison.

This year I started pestering him early — and often — about what he might like for Christmas. Granted, I pester him ALL the time about something or other anyway, but this time I had a point and a purpose.

Idea

Just to get me off his back, he finally mentioned the one thing he’s really been wanting for quite some time. Something, he assured me, he would use every day, yet consider quite a cool toy too. I can finally give him something practical AND fun?

I could scarcely contain my excitement! So what do his wondering eyes hope to see appear?

“I could really use a dump truck,” he said. The gleam in his eye was unmistakable.
He finds himself terribly amusing sometimes.

Now what am I supposed to do with THAT? I’ve often said that the Good Lord made him cute because he knew he was going to need it. He’d be such a trial to live with otherwise.

Well, I’m sure he’ll enjoy his next new air hose very much, because unless that dump truck says “Tonka” on the side, it’s not going to fit under the tree.

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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