INGRID THOFT: Every year, when my husband's birthday rolls around, I'm faced with the same dilemma: What on earth should I give him? He's not a picky guy, nor is he hard to please, but wow, he's hard to shop for.
The problem is multi-faceted. Firstly, he doesn't have a hankering for stuff in general. Secondly, his interest in technology (he's a software developer who works in the area of augmented reality) means that I don't understand most of the gifts he might like, so he tends to buy those items for himself. Thirdly, his other primary hobby—a salt water aquarium—is also something with which I have little familiarity. I'm talented when it comes to choosing names for the creatures in his underwater world—a shrimp named scampi, a fish named poke (after the Hawaiian fish salad)—but I can't tell a protein skimmer from a sump pump.
Full disclosure: my husband and I are not big gift givers to each other. We love to give things to ourselves as a couple, but we’re not fans of gift swapping on major holidays. We celebrate our anniversary by making a purchase for our home or putting money toward a trip. We don’t exchange Christmas presents, and our birthday celebrations are modest. So each year I find myself wracking my brain trying to find a good gift. Perfect doesn’t even enter the picture!My family also struggles with this, which explains the greatest hits of gifts that show up under the tree every year. He’s a dedicated New England Patriots fan (yay Pats!), but not one for wearing the team colors except on his hat. He loves spicy food and has, therefore, been the recipient of a plethora of spicy sauces and marinades. Don’t even get me started on the salsa selections! One of the doodads that delighted him in recent years? Unpopable (sp?) bubbles. Seriously.
What about clothes, you might ask? Everyone needs clothes. That would qualify as a deal breaker in our marriage. As a child, he received clothes for gifts, and since then has deemed clothes "not gifts!" I'm with him on that. Unless you're Tim Gunn or Carrie Bradshaw, clothes don't seem very festive.
Were money no object, I'd buy him that jet he has his eye on or maybe a private tropical island. Nothing makes him happier than spending hours snorkeling and photographing the sea life dwelling on a healthy coral reef. In fact, maybe that's what I should be "giving" him: a donation to an organization that is committed to maintaining the health of our oceans and reefs. Maybe writing this post will solve this thorny dilemma once and for all!