I’ll never forget the Christmas my dad got my mom sheep-textured seat covers for her car. Now, even though they seemed quite comfortable to me, my mother was not so pleased. Christmas traditions to start with your spouse seems a pretty fair bet for me to try.
My dad just thought he was saving my mom from sticking to her seat.
But next Christmas my dad got my mom a simple ring with all her children’s birthstones. There are a lot of Christmas traditions to start with your spouse.
They have been married for 35 years.
Fast forward to the first few Christmases with my spouse: a variety pack of hot sauce–for yes–three years in a row.
Now my husband is right; I do love hot sauce. I pour that stuff on everything from eggs to mashed potatoes, but I admit it wasn’t a gift that wowed me.
It’s important not always to expect to be wowed.
Still, I did not say anything until the third year when I saw a neatly wrapped (he is such a better wrapper than I am) rectangular gift under the tree, and I flat out asked,
“It’s not another variety pack of hot sauce is it?”
“I thought you loved that gift,” my husband genuinely replied.
You see, his intentions were pure, and he indeed is not a mind reader.
The next year we were struggling financially, and he painted me a beautiful painting of a blue heron; he had drawn me one when we first started dating, and I told him I’d always felt that the blue heron was my spirit animal.
Yes, cheesy story, but the painting he gave me that Christmas hangs in our bedroom; it outlived the hot sauce.
The point of these stories is that giving gifts to your spouse can be a learning experience, the context of the present is what is critical not the value, and sometimes it’s not even about if you particularly like the gift or not.
I know this one guy who bought his wife a pearl necklace every year. The wife used to wear them to every occasion and used them as everyday conversation pieces.
It turns out he was cheating, and they are now divorced.
This is not to say a pearl necklace is a bad gift: hint, hint, honey, but the pearl necklace was more of a way to divert the wife’s attention.
The context of the gift was not a good one, and I’d prefer the hot sauce.
Also, the value of the gift should not be a defining showcase of your spouse’s love.
Remember Jack from the movie Titanic? His nude drawing of Rose was much more romantic and meaningful than the Heart of the Ocean necklace from her crazy fiance.
She ended up throwing that sucker into the sea.
Now I’m no Rose, but I’ll take my blue heron painting.
On the opposite spectrum, I would freak out if my husband went out and bought me a car right now.
I would not consider this to be love–rather stupidity.
I am going through my second pregnancy, and again this is not the time to be blowing money. My next point also relates to my anecdotes.
You do need to speak up.
As I stated before, my husband is no mind reader. His mind does not work the same as mine.
He doesn’t know that cleaning the house, getting a babysitter, and taking me out to dinner would be my idea of a perfect gift or that a vase full of sunflowers would make me melt, or spending Christmas with just my husband and not his entire family is a perfect idea for me.
That is until I tell him. I give him ideas. I provide a few hints.
After all, he is from Mars, and he tends to need some pointers now and then.
As do I.
I no longer get him the cheap Blu-rays on Black Friday.
He told me that he doesn’t watch movies like I do but likes practicality: heavy shirts, multi-tools, wallets, and headlamps–to name a few.
He voiced his opinion lovingly and calmly, much better than I did with the hot sauce.
My last pieces of advice are to use gift giving this Christmas to learn something about your spouse and communicate.
If you take the time and effort to honestly think about a gift for your spouse and talk to your spouse about his/her wants and needs–nine times out of ten–I bet you’ll get it right.
And if you don’t, don’t freak out: express yourself tactfully and return the sheep covers, hot sauce, and Blu rays.
Above all, enjoy each other’s company and have a very happy holiday!