The Holiday season is always stressful. I think it is for everyone, even those that don’t work in the retail sector. There is stuff you have to do, and a time limit in which to get it done. The holidays are the same for almost everyone around here. We’re all working the same schedule. We are all being motivated by the same thoughts when we enter the Big Box store or when we shop online. We are all doing the same thing, at exactly the same time! We are all trying to buy the perfect gift. There is pressure!!
Gift giving is never easy. Honey and I have been together for 40 years and that my friends, is a lot of gift giving. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say I have had to come up with gift ideas for Honey close to 400 times. This is including the gifts given for occasions, like the anniversary of when we first met, that are no longer celebrated. After forty years I have it down to just Mother’s Day, Anniversary, Birthday and Christmas, as the mandatory gift-giving days. Days when I must come up with a thoughtful gift idea.
The key to that declaration is thoughtful. When I first started giving Honey gifts, I thought that thoughtful and expensive were the same thing. How much I spent was relative to how much I thought of her. Empty out the bank account and then some, was my modus operandi. I spent money I didn’t have, on some really stupid stuff!
That has now changed and gifts that we give each other are given relative to need. No more slippers if they’re not needed. No more cookware, no more furniture, no more electronics, no more things that we will be forced to part with in only a few short years. No more stupid stuff!
What is stupid stuff you ask? Well, stupid stuff is slippers every year whether you need it or not! I have seven pairs of slippers that I never wear!! I prefer socks to keep my feet warm. Slippers were a waste that became a tradition somehow! Stuffed animals, tree ornaments, sno-globes and any other of kitschy bric-a-brac you can imagine, rates as stupid stuff! A total waste of money!! It’s all destined for a rummage-sale!!!
We don’t have the money required to be frivolous, and with vacation only a little more than a month away, we need to purchase those things required for our time at The Playa. So, this year both Honey and I gave gifts that could be used while we were in the DR. This was the central theme for our gift selections this year.
I gave her gift cards. Yes, I know… but before you start cursing gift cards as being a cop-out and get all riled up, let me say that in my world, gift cards rate up there next to gift bags, as one of woman’s greatest inventions. These two things top sliced bread!! I’m a man! I can use a knife to cut my bread, but give me a box, paper and tape!!! Or set me free in a clothing store to make the right decision on colour and size!! Picking the wrong size, is a mistake that no person wants to make about someone they are intimate with!! “What made you think I could fit into that??” or “How big do you think I am?!!!” are not phrases anyone wishes to hear. You can’t make that mistake giving gift cards. The gift card saved my gift-giving life when they first appeared a decade ago!
I still need to be thoughtful, so to stay with our theme this year, I gave Honey gift cards so she could purchase books to read while sitting on the sand. For Honey that could be 12 to 18 books! That is no small amount of reading!!
Honey had asked me what I would like for Christmas about 6 weeks ago. I’m terrible to buy for because I never know what I want, when I am asked. I told Honey to give me gifts that were on her ‘need to get to go south’ list. She gave me insect killer, 100 feet of screen mesh and a pound of Velcro. This is to install screens in the apartment and at least one cabana. That way, all the windows and doors can be opened to allow the sea air to flow through. I guess the DDT is in case the screens don’t work.
I didn’t need a screwdriver with multiple heads at home. I have a complete set of screwdrivers in the basement. But I needed to borrow screwdrivers from Sandy every second day I was at The Playa last year! You try explaining what Phillips and Robertson mean in Spanish!! Now I’m covered when I go there this winter.
I understand that these are not luxury gifts but they make sense. We don’t need to be giving each other things that are expensive and useless. We have stepped beyond that and are being realistic about what is important and what is nonsense. Honey spent the nonsense money on the grandchildren! This was solid resource management!!
It is not like thoughtful gifts are new to Honey and I. We have been giving each other thoughtful gifts for forty years. But these for the most part have been over-shadowed by the stupid expensive gifts. The ones that are all about bling and not substance. I would be lying if I said that I give as good as I get. Honey is far better at thoughtful than I am. This is why this year was gift cards for her to spend on what she would like, and last year was a vacuum cleaner. Hey, it’s what she said she wanted!! I was just following directions! Trying to spend money on needs and not bling! It’s not my fault she now hates it!!! She even told me what brand to buy! Sure, I felt it was a waste, but she insisted that the old one would not last until my retirement. I can only hope that vacuum cleaners hold their value in rummage sales!
Gift giving is hard. Making a purchase with the hope that the recipient will like what you have chosen for them, is very stressful. Sometimes you get it right, but most times not. You would think that the longer you are with someone the easier selecting would be, but that is not the case. Thoughtful requires just that… thought. Knowing Honey’s likes and dislikes should make gift giving easier but in fact it makes it that much harder. Making a bad choice is just a moment of distraction away and that is why the gift card is my salvation. It says ‘I love you’ better than cash and let’s her buy her own wrong gift.