Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's the thought that counts...sure it is.

RO: I know I'm supposed to feel it's the thought that counts - and every other year I'm good at pretending I really like the gift that my darling husband buys me. But every OTHER year I can't seem to suppress the urge to say something along the lines of "what posessed you??" or "gee, I guess this will go with all of the other Carmela Soprano-like jewelry I have."

As soon as the words leave my lips I regret them. If I don't actually utter the offensive words, there's still "the look." The frozen smile. The eyebrows disappearing into my bangs. I'm horrible...I know it.

But I can't help it.

We've been together now for close to 20 years and if you count Christmas, birthdays and Valentine's Day presents that makes approximately 60 times I've had to grin and bear it...and pretend to like the autographed picture of Alan Houston..the camera that wasn't the model I asked for..the incredibly expensive earrings that would look lovely on a 25 yr old hooker or the dvd of The Sound of Music (I'm more Martin Scorsese than Maria von Trapp.)
He tries so hard - he's taken to emailing my friends and asking them for advice. But it's no good. If it's possible to misinterpret or hear a name wrong, he will. If I want silver, he gets gold.

To be honest, I'm not the best gift buyer either. I had a good run in the early 2000's - kayak, telescope, prescription diving mask, bicycle. But I'm running out of ideas and he's running out of hobbies. Right now his favorite activity is reading The New Yorker. And he gets a comp subscription. If I buy him another sweater he's going to have to learn the Mr. Rogers song..."Will you be my friend?"

It's not that either of us needs more stuff, but I'd just like to open a present one day and think "Wow! That's just what I wanted!!"

So..on the outside chance that some significant others are reading this post, what do you all want for the holidays?

JAN: I want to NOT spend a ridiculous amount of money on Christmas. I say that every year, it never works. Bill loves Christmas. He's frugal about a lot of other stuff, so I can't complain.
He knows to consult me first on jewelry decisions (but we've been together 33 years, and its taken that long....) and it helps to have a daughter with excellent taste. She considers it her personal mission to do most of his Xmas shopping for him..... I lucked out.
PS. Have you heard that Verizon ad: "If it really was the thought that counted, wouldn't there be thoughts underneath the tree?"
RO: I love it!
RHYS: I learned long ago to be specific if I wanted something males are not good at buying. eg: Go into Nordstroms, first jewelry counter on the right, third necklace from the left. (or even tell them that my husband will be coming in so please help him). But having been married waaaaay longer than 20 years, I've resorted to pyschology. I ask for presents that a. he will approve of and b. he will have to research--his favorite occupation. So last year I got the most fabulous camera. I am still in love with it. One thing that doesn't work is to say, "I'd love a surprise." I said that one year and got Winston Churchill's War War 11, because he wanted it. My problem with him is that he doesn't want presents. If he needs something he goes out and buys it. Even if it's a week before Christmas he'll go to the store and buy what he wants. Infuriating.

RO: Bruce does that too! He just bought a laptop and a December..what's up with that??? ( was the Winston Churchill documentary? Was it The Finest Hours..I loved that one.)

HALLIE: I love soap. Seriously. Especially if it smells like mango or tangerine. Or dark chocolate-covered just-about-anything. Or tulips--especially near the end when they get that "in flagrante" look and seem to be about to fling their petals. Oh yeah, and good caviar and champagne. Generally speaking, give me sensual stuff that disappears when it's used up.

RO: Sensual stuff that disappears when it's used up? Do you think you were a man in a previous lifetime?

ROBERTA: I'm like Rhys, I don't leave too much to chance. I've been known to even order the item in question and then hand it over to be wrapped. My inner control freak at work, I'm afraid. Last year my hub turned up with a gift certificate to the store he knows I love. Now that was a great surprise! And he almost always delivers a box of chocolate-covered cherries from one of the local chocolate shops. He can never go wrong with that!

HANK: Jonathan is amazing at choosing jewelry, and that's what he generally buys. To my great delight.(When we first met, we were strolling down the street in Nantucket, and he said, "What kind of jewelry do you like?" I was so hilariously overwhelmed, I said, "Hang on a second, I have to go call my mother.") But this year, I don't need a thing. Not one thing. But I do love...shower gel. And grapefruit-smelling anything. And scarves and shawls. What to get Jonathan? One hundred per cent impossible.

RO: Yikes, with all this thinking, maybe it is the thought that counts. Aside from the thoughts, I'd like the last two seasons of the Sopranos on dvd, a signed copy of U is for Undertow, a white gold and pearl ring and a black cashmere sweater, but I promise to love whatever is under my tree this year.
(Stop back tomorrow for JR's favorite non-mystery books to give for the holidays. And visit us on Wednesday when book blogger extraordinaire Jen Forbus tells us about her incredible Six Word memoir project.)


  1. Sad to say, gift-giving becomes a test of "how well do you know me?", especially after you've been together for a lot of years. And that's too bad, because you're setting yourself up for disappointment.

    A year or two ago, I found what I wanted (a shiny red stand mixer), found it at a good discount on eBay, handed the printout to my husband and said, "here, order this." Everybody was happy.

    But in my heart of hearts, I do wish he'd surprise me with something brilliant, chosen with love and attention.

    PS. He's getting a turntable that records to a computer, so he can salvage forty years of vinyl records.

  2. Sheila, I've been eying that turntable thingy... having years and years of vinyl treasures. But I couldn't find anyone who'd tried to use it. Will be waiting to hear...

  3. No wonder I am blog sister with you guys. we are on the same wave-length.
    Grapefruit smelling bath stuff--my absolute favorite.
    Dark chocolate covered anything--my other favorite.

    Nothing practical,ever. Hubby once gave me an ironing board when we were newly married. I made it very clear that he was never, never, never to do that again!

  4. Sheile--my husband just bought himself the turntable to convert vinyl into mp3s, also a cassette deck to convert tapes into mp3s.
    There go those two gift ideas.

  5. Sheila,
    YES, I want a report on the turntable thingy, too!

    And I'm all for any grapefruit smelling anything -- even my favorite perfume smells like grapefruit.(Light Blue) But I like orange and tangerine, too.

    Maybe we should change our name to the Citruswriters??

  6. No let's not make the name change because I prefer lavender....

    Sheila that red stand mixer sounds perfect. If it comes up with my hub, steer him that way ok?

  7. What's a turntable that records records (you know what I mean) to a computer? You mean--all those records in our basement--could be listened to again???

    Whoa, Joni Mitchell and CSNY. And my probably only copy left in the universe of Moby Grape.

  8. I NEED the turntable thingy for Bruce!! Where did you get it ... Restoration Hardware?
    ..and was it the KitchenAid stand mixer? I love mine. Told Bruce what to get and he ordered it a few Christmases back.

  9. For the turntable, I shopped around on-line and read the user reviews. One that came with built-in speakers apparently has a tendency to skip, so I went with one that most users said was easy and dependable,even if you have to connect it to your computer to hear anything. I'll report back! And, yes, there are boxes and boxes of beloved (and scratched--speaking of which, I think the turntable comes with software to fix that) vinyl records, including a lot of my mother's Broadway cast albums, that I'd love to reclaim.

    Yes, the mixer is a KitchenAid. I inherited my mother's, which is still working but its motor just wasn't up to big batches. I adore the new one.