My husband and I are polar opposites in many, if not most, ways. He is athletic. I have two left feet and no more competitive edge than your average tree sloth. I am a grudge holding introvert. He is gregarious and forgiving. He is a math whiz. I find that even fifth grade mathematics causes me actual pain. I’m more of a word person myself. In short, we each bring balance to our union.
Trust. While opposite in many qualities, we are similar in core respects such as faith, family, and frugality. In God, and each other, we trust. This trust means that in seventeen years together he has never been one to worry about how I spend money. “The lights are on, the kids are fed, I trust you,” he says. I, in turn, have never questioned or worried about his financial aptitude either. Since I’m certain he’s not spending his paychecks on gin, gambling, or loose women I never really question where any “extra” income goes.
I mention this only to preface what I’m about to say next. There is really no earthly reason why just a few weeks before Christmas I just went ahead and lost my mind.
One moment we were enjoying a nice, relaxing morning, sipping coffee and remarking on the news of the day. The next I started to worry, whine, then moved on to venting loudly about where, exactly, all his money went? I pointed out that lately whenever I tried to get my hands on some of his “pin money” I was rebuffed! Could he pay the kid’s soccer fees with his pocket money? No? Could he pick up a few things at the grocery without benefit of the checkbook? No? Taking some comfort in my conviction that loose morals and anything resembling Tiger Wood’s behavior was not involved, I nonetheless became convinced – then irate – that he was frittering away our funds on frivolities. “Selfish!” I said! You would have thought he was Bernie Maddof and I some poor widow learning that my entire life savings was invested in his yacht the way I carried on. It was not my finest wifely moment.
Christmas morning dawned bright and beautiful. I was heartened to see that the children were more interested in GIVING gifts than receiving them. Ignoring the brightly wrapped gifts beneath the tree for themselves, they slid the first of two hefty boxes toward me. “From Daddy and Us” they said. They quivered with anticipation.
Splurge. Mr. Wonderful and I have long held the notion that splurging merrily without regard to financial consequence is not who we are. We tend to focus the “gifting” portion of the holiday on the children. We leave the exchange between ourselves to more practical items. A new set of winter coveralls for him. Perhaps a nice blender for me.
As I balanced the box on my lap I thought it seemed an odd shape for that mixer I’d been hinting at. Perhaps “some assembly required” figured into the equation?
As I tore into the wrapping, the contents of the box became thrillingly, glaringly, apparent. My heart seized up just a bit.
This was THE camera. THE camera I have lusted after for over two years. THE CAMERA I had drooled over, and then walked away from, time and time again. It was simply “too expensive.” Here it sat, fully accessorized, in my lap. This was a very expensive Christmas gift indeed.
I had a moment of clarity so perfect that there should have been a Christmas bulb lit above my head. Here was weeks of “extra money” unaccounted for. Lost. Squirreled away. He’d been carefully saving it for my perfect Christmas gift. For me.
And I had nagged him incessantly over it.
Oh. My. Mistletoe. I have often said that family are the only subjects who cannot sue me for anything I write about them (I know, I checked). I have also suggested that if they want to tell “their side” of a story they should probably get their own column. Still, it wouldn’t be sporting to keep this little anecdote to myself. If I can save even one spouse the heartache of having to say, “Honey, I was WRONG!” on Christmas Day (or ever), I will not have disgraced myself entirely in vain.
For the record you should always marry a very forgiving man. It’s a big help if you are going to go around sticking your foot in your mouth from time to time.
In the meantime we have a new understanding of secrecy and the power of saving money – and saving face – around here.
Surprising your wife with the gift of her dreams for Christmas: Pretty costly. Watching your wife eat a heaping helping of crow for Christmas: Priceless.