For the past many years, my husband and I have agreed to not exchange gifts for Christmas. Usually as the holiday approached, one of us (most usually me) would succumb to the commercialized holiday cheer and ask, “No, seriously, what do you want for Christmas?” A discussion, a suggestion or two, a not-so-vague hint and on Christmas morning there would be shiny wrapped presents for both of us under the tree. With a few… maybe one or two… exceptions, the shiny wrapped presents were exactly what had been discussed, suggested, hinted. Don’t get me wrong, the opening of the presents and the thank you’s after were sweet and genuine and appreciated.
I’m not trying to throw my hubby under the bus at all… there is no bus to throw him under really. But those Christmas present exchanges were basically a compromise – a merging of our two very different gift-giving selves. I would love to give gigantic, over-the-top, super-surprise gifts every year! (!!!) I would probably, easily, bankrupt us by my gift-giving tendency. My husband, on the other hand, likes to give practical, logical, budget-conscious gifts. (…) He keeps our budget in line. I love this trait of his, I do. Perhaps, though, it took me a Christmas holiday, birthday, and another Christmas to fully appreciate his gift-giving tendency. (“ooooooh… an… external hard drive… for me.”)
Well, this year. Christmas of 2014… something happened. We barely talked about what we wanted. I suggested an arm band for my phone. Practical, logical, budget-conscious. I was looking forward to it! And I got it. But it was from my son. And this is the shiny wrapped present from my husband this year…..
Whaaaaaaat?! That is not practical, logical, nor budget-conscious. I was S.H.O.C.K.E.D. and then I was M.O.R.T.I.F.I.E.D. For you see, this is the shiny wrapped present I gave to my husband this year….
Nooooooooo. Yes. I gave him a deck of cards. Not fun ones, either. Bicycle ones (granted, they are “jumbo” but I didn’t even download the free app). Those are not gigantic, over-the-top, or super-surprisey. Those are not the gift you want to give when you receive a Tiffany-blue Tiffany box.
When my husband opened his shiny wrapped present he just started laughing and I just started apologizing. He genuinely told me not to be sorry. After approximately ten more attempts of explaining why I bought him cards (we couldn’t find our other deck since we moved in June!) and apologizing (I had NO idea we were exchanging real gifts! If I had known….!) I finally accepted that he really really shouldn’t have, but he did, and for that I was grateful. When I finally put my pride away, to be the one that gave the lesser gift, to be the one who hadn’t come up with the super-surprisey gift, and when I finally sat comfortably in the place of the overwhelmed, breath-taken-away gift receiver…. I said thank you and I accepted the shiny wrapped gift.
I do not write this to publicly announce, “my husband bought me a gift from Tiffany’s!!! Lucky lucky me!” I write this because sometimes in the holiday giving season… oftentimes, really… the gift-giving becomes competitive. Heaven forbid we don’t find “the perfect gift” for the teachers, the postman, the hair stylist, the friends, the family. We search and search, we bluster and fret. But this year, I was reminded that sometimes we don’t give the gigantic, over-the-top, super-surpisey gift of the season. Sometimes we bomb out and give a deck of cards. And in return we receive a gift that makes us feel less-than-worthy… like we haven’t brought enough to the table in return. And there you have it… isn’t that the reason for the season? That we can be our true selves… sometimes pretty great and shiny wrapped… and sometimes pretty lame and awfully dull… and those who love us will be just fine with that.