I was going over Christmas list ideas for the kids with my Aunt today, and she brought up the incredulous idea of her husband shopping for Christmas (it was incredulous for both of us, as we instantly thought about what that would mean... if either of our husbands shopped for Christmas). Talk about a nightmare before Christmas! So, I must thank her for reminding me of the following Christmas shopping horror stories... or our very own ghosts of Christmas shopping past...
The first Christmas that my husband (then boyfriend) and I shared together, I had the privilege(?) of going with him as he did his Christmas shopping. It was no lie when I told my Aunt that he had 2 go-to gifts back then... car cleaner, or a generic candle. I watched as he picked up 3 bottles of Simple Green, and 3 generic cinnamon candles for the 6 people on his shopping list. Yes, if you were a girl, you got the candle. If you were a boy, you got the cleaner (for all your car cleaning needs, though I'm not sure what part of the car you use that on... I just know that was the intended use). I didn't have to watch him give these gifts to his mom, step-dad, brother, sister-in-law, dad, and step-mother, and I was very happy for that. I was also thrilled to discover that I got the obligatory "stuffed bear for your girlfriend" gift, instead of the first candle he spotted at Walmart and grabbed for every female in his family, or worse yet, the degreaser.
It was that very first Christmas, 12 Christmases ago, that I realized he did not approach gift giving the way I did. Christmas shopping, for me, is an Olympic event, and I wanna bring home the gold! He could care less where he places. As I walk to my car, I hear our national anthem playing, and watch as the other shoppers watch in awe as they clap in slow motion. As he walks to his car, he thinks he better get home quickly because Christmas Eve dinner is about to begin. I go home, and wrap my gifts in color coordinated paper and bows with care. He patches together whatever scraps of paper he can find, and uses an entire roll of tape to secure it together in some lumpy mass. I wait with eager anticipation as the gift recipient opens their gift, and he often forgets to even give his gifts out.
One year he went out to Ollies, and tried to purchase Christmas gifts there. He loves Ollies. He would furnish his home with misprinted 3 legged sofas and tables on wheels if he could. I had to have an intervention right then and there. There was no way that I could allow him to purchase the factory second version of tickle-me-elmo that would spark and shout Russian nursery rhymes when you "press here" for his niece. I told him Ollies was not for Christmas shopping. Instead, he bought himself a $15 winter coat with a lion printed on it. The buttons didn't match, it was unclear if it was supposed to be green or black, and the waist cinched in like a woman's coat would, but he loved it because it was cheap.
My sister-in-law told me it was very obvious when I started taking over the Christmas shopping for him. The gifts were no longer confusing or awful. They made sense, and were appropriate for each individual based on their personality, likes, and dislikes.
The curse of the terrible gifts did resurface one year, after we were married. He decided he knew what I would like for Christmas, and he wasn't going to use a list for ideas. He hated just getting people what they wished for. So, he went out on his own. That year I got a bottle of vitamins and a gift card for target. He gave his wife a GIFT CARD FOR TARGET. I think that is actually slightly worse than the vitamins. Super thoughtful. Super. Thoughtful. Only he knows me so well? Ugh.
I can, happily, report that these are, indeed, the ghosts of Christmas past. Last year I asked him for one thing... just for him to make the holidays nice for our kiddos. Be merry! He did, still, get me gifts, and most of them were not on my list. All of them were thoughtful, and reflected that he does, indeed, know who I am. Apparently, even the grinchiest of scrooges can finally master the art of Christmas shopping.