. . .your husband gives you a dish drainer for Christmas. Me: A predictable, immediate obligatory grateful-for-the-gift face, followed by a flash of WTF face, and quickly ending with raised eyebrows and an awkward toothy smile. You: Utter disgust at my reaction. Disgusted that I am not grateful or excited to receive this holiday gift. The guilt slowly seeps in. Conjecture: “Maybe, as someone’s co-habitating significant other, I am supposed to appreciate this gift?” Everything else in my being says no to that ridiculousness. Why does my disappointment in receiving a dish drainer for Christmas make me a spoiled bitchy princess in your eyes? Oh, right, that’s ’cause I told you all I ever received for Christmas growing up was diamonds and cash. My mother never once received a vacuum or dishtowels as Christmas gifts from my father. Did she get luxury gifts as a rule? No, but somehow because she didn’t receive sponges and sink cleaner, you seem to think so. So, what exactly is your definition of princess? Even as clueless as a man raised in the 1950s can be about his wife’s wants and needs, my father would get her things she mentioned, not always hitting the nail on the head of course, but…
So, I am supposed to act grateful when I receive a gift that aids me in drying the dishes? I have gotten creative in coming up with your imaginary defenses now. The retort being perhaps, “It saves time. You don’t actually have to dry them. (Read: You should thank me).” Not quite the back assward “keep up the good work” message but a loud and clear: “being my wife is easy. Don’t you appreciate that I saved you a step?”
Wait a minute. I have lived with you for while now and know it can’t be that simple. Should this gift be revered for the fact that it saves a step? Or is it that (dun, dun, DUN!), the current dish drainer is about to disintegrate on contact? It slowly occurred to me that you use Christmas as an opportunity to replace failing household goods. Now, I can appreciate if the TV dies and Santa brings us a new one—that is a gift for the whole family. What I don’t get is you having a little conversation with yourself in your brain saying, “Well, money must be spent to keep the house functional, so I might as well give [fill in the blank with things like “mesh bags for washing delicates” or “tarp to cover the wood pile”] as holiday gifts.” Let’s take a the fundamental concept of holiday gift giving and turn it into acquiring wrappable items that scream the recipient is unworthy of fun, or dare I say, thoughtful gifts.
Oh, that moment when . . . I gained the clairvoyance skills to know what I was getting for Christmas. Who knew I would develop skills as a “domestic detective” of sorts? Imagine, if you will, a black plastic mat next to the kitchen sink, coated in mineral deposits and peeling at the edges. Hmmmm. A bent wire frame from the hundreds of times a clean glass has been hung on it. Ah ha! Solved it! Not quite as fun as Elf on the Shelf, but still a seasonal search game nonetheless. What the house needs takes precedence over any thoughtful gift for me as a human, let alone a human that you choose to be with on the regular. A human you say you love and care about. An earthly inhabitant that desperately wants to be seen as more than a service provider or a required “expense” to maintain your job-wife-house-3 kids image. And yeah, I am sooo selfish to want thoughtful holiday gifts from my spouse. Let me make it easy for you— just give me a book. Any topic. That would hurt less. You are familiar with my love of books, right? Aren’t you?
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