The gifter who keeps on giving bad gifts


Mr. Wonderful has taken to hitting me to get his point across. OK, technically it’s more of a playful tap on the shoulder to alert me, the listener, that he has just said something important.

He has adapted this as a method to ensure that I am actually paying attention when he is about to mention something he may want or need for Christmas. This sounds like a stocking-full of crazy, but is, in reality, completely justified.


I give terrible gifts. Some people are awesome givers. They take note of all the nuances of the people they love and then spend the year keeping their eyes peeled for perfect gifts which they pick up as they go.

One of these people is my best friend. This year for my birthday, for example, she gave me a T-shirt from my high school alma mater, a DVD of a movie I adored in my teens, premium chocolates and a beautiful hand-crafted bracelet in my favorite colors.

For her birthday, I think I gave her a magazine subscription and a candle. Giving is not my love-language. I mean well, I do. I have moments of “that would be perfect!” brilliance but my Swiss-cheese brain doesn’t seem to allow me to retain the information long enough to write it down. If I do, I promptly forget where I wrote it down.

What this means is that as a the holiday approaches I need a list or you get coal. Those are your choices with me.

Thus, Poor Mr. Wonderful has every right after 18 Christmases together to think he needs to be a bit more pointed in his presentation of possible gift giving ideas. I think spray painting them on the side of our barn would also work. He’s always polite but I can usually tell pretty quick that whatever I’ve gotten him has completely missed the mark. I can tell this because I badger him incessantly until he cracks.

He also has three sisters and they clued me in, early on, on the “tell” that gives it away when he’s lying. Word to the wise bride. Get to know your sister-in-laws, they will have valuable information on the care and torture of your future husband.


What tends to happen is he asks for tools. I don’t buy him anything close to tools. I buy sweaters and things that I think are precious. Later I say “but you never tell me what you want!” He will protest this fact, saying something lame like “remember when I said ‘Man I could really use an air nailer?’ Well that was the clue that I could really use an air nailer!”

If he’s going to be so vague, what can I do with that? Sometimes I sort of get the general impression that he wants a tool but then I get confused. He always makes it sound like he asks for one tool and there is one choice. This is unfair. There are roughly 7,000 versions of any one tool. Each has approximately 11,000 options and a teenage seasonal employee of the mega-tool-retailer will be stuck explaining all of them to me while I give him the same blink-blink stare that you’d get if you tried to explain quantum physics to the dog.

Thus we have come to his newest method which really puts a bit of a punch in Christmas. Last night we were riding home from soccer (because we are always riding home from soccer) and Mr. Wonderful says apropos of nothing “I need a bag to carry the soccer gear.”

Then he play-punched me in the arm, for emphasis, adding “You always say I don’t tell you anything so notice I just said something I could use for Christmas.”

I, being the understanding spouse promptly poked him back because “Ow.”

Who hits people to get them to buy them nicer gifts? This man is lucky he’s so cute.

Once we got over pretending to be mean to each other, he explained his new method and then we both had a good laugh because, of course, I do need the emphasis. He’s right!


I have just admitted that he was right. In print. Right there. Someone get a bow and wrap that up. That’s got to be the greatest gift of all! I just hope he doesn’t want the same thing next year. This feels like sort of a once-in-a-lifetime thing.


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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.


  1. Moon, Dave told me he wants “snowshoes” for Christmas. I said, “Didn’t I get you snowshoes last year?” He says I did not. I think I get him snowshoes every year. Somewhere in the vicinity are multiple pairs of snowshoes. He also wants an electric skillet, one with “even heat.” I wish I had even heat. Can we skip Christmas this year?

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