When it comes to giving Christmas gifts, I do not like shopping for my wife using a list. For me, the list seems to start way back in September when I get questions from my mom, "so, make sure you let me know what Cindy wants for Christmas." When we were younger, I use to disguise the fact that I was collecting items for a list. Fast forward fourteen years, and it is almost blunt to the point of flat our asking.
The list is a safety net. I am not as worried about getting her a gift that she wants as much as I am about getting her a gift that she simply does not like. That fear starts to drive me towards simplicity, which might be reflected in the form of a gift card, or worse, cash. That way, she can get what she wants, right? Each December, I stand, like a deer caught in the headlights, frozen by fear that my gift will be rejected.
But, that misses the point of giving a gift.
This year, I am ditching the list, and I am trying a new approach, a set of guidelines.
1. No Clothing - I must remember that I have the worst taste in clothing. If you catch me wearing something that looks decent, just remember, my wife picked that out. Clothing is a sure fire way to having a gift returned.
2. Bath and Body Works - This year, I pledge not to buy anything from this store. Not that there is anything wrong with this store, but just give it a rest this year.
3. No Yankee Candles - This is similar to the B&BW above. I love Yankee Candles, but, this perennial gift will not make it under the tree this year.
4. Prepare before Shopping - Here is where I usually fail. I drive to the local mall and wandering into and out of stores looking for Christmas Inspiration (which usually ends up with a trip to Bath and Body Works and an Ice Cream from Kohr's Brothers). I feel like a zombie from the Romero movie and I loose all focus. Each of the anchor stores have an online store. This year, I will "wander" the virtual stores in the comfort of my own home.
5. Durability and Usability - A gift needs to pass the D&U test. Many gifts that are neither Durable or Usable become items that collect dust. This is not to say that the gift has to be utilitarian in nature, it just means that I am not going to buy something that I know is junk from Bed Bath and Beyond.
6. Appeal to her inner Child - When it comes to Christmas, everyone wants to feel like a kid again. Sure, the food processor is neat, but, a board game that brings everyone away from the TV is a whole lot neater.
7. Who is She - This guideline can really paralyze a guy: he will get caught up trying to find that gift that screams "My Wife's Name" that he does something stupid (like buying a mop or a car). My wife is a natural entertainer. Whether it is with her Violin or as a host, she really sparkles when she entertains. Just think about what causes your wife to Sparkle and there she is.
8. Non-Tangible Gifts - This guideline is for the big day itself. I think Christmas day is best spent in sweat pants and t-shirts, but my wife likes to dress up. While I like to sit down and play with the Kid's Toys, watch a movie, play video games or eat tons of cheese and summer sausage, Cindy is preparing the Christmas Feast.
Guys, here is a secret that fourteen years of marriage has taught me. It is a powerful tool, so use it wisely. It is sure fire, and never once has it failed me. These four simple words could turn out being the best gift of the year. Through out the day, come up to your spouse, look her in the eyes and speak, so that only the two of you can hear, these words: "How can I help?"
There you have it. These are my guidelines for this year. Odd that it looks sorta like a list, and doesn't replace the fact that I have had two Fridays off and it is one week before Christmas and I still have not gone out to shop. But, I spent yesterday preparing and I think I have several ideas to choose from.