If I had a dollar for every time someone that I know and love said to me, “I didn’t know what to get you—you’re so hard to buy for”, I’d have enough dollars to buy myself something that I really like. But I am NOT hard to buy for. Here are the things that I like: jewelry, perfume, make-up, clothes, fine leather goods, electronics, antiques, clocks, and alcohol. That’s a pretty comprehensive list. But Ken will tell you that within this list, there are only specific types of things that belong to each category, which is why he always approaches buying me gifts with a certain amount of dread. I think this is totally unfair, and it makes me feel really guilty. And I’m a very believable recipient—I always act terribly pleased, regardless of the gift, and no one but Ken ever knows if I’m not. This is part of the problem—I CAN’T FOOL KEN. He always knows when I’m not being sincere, because, unfortunately, Ken was my partner in crime when I taught Kate how to handle getting things she didn’t like, for example clothes instead of toys, which was to say “Thank you, it’s beautiful!” (this came out as “Tank you ids bootyful” when she was little and it was sooo adorable). Of course, now that Kate is much older, she doesn’t bother with the niceties. This was the conversation a couple of years ago on Christmas morning:
Kate: 2 more pairs of pajamas. Wow.
Me: But you said you needed pajamas.
Kate: No, YOU said I needed pajamas.
Me: Well, SOMEONE said you needed pajamas! Either way. Now you have lots of pajamas, and I don’t have to look at you in that pair you’re wearing right now with the knee ripped out.
Kate: Yes. Now I have a different pair for every day of the week. Thanks. Is there anything under the tree for me besides more pajamas?
Kate: Again, wow.
While I might not be very imaginative when it comes to picking out gifts, the trouble with Ken is that he tries to be TOO imaginative. For example, one year right as we were about to open our stockings, Ken announced, “The gifts in your stocking this year are based on a THEME.” We all stopped what we were doing. Nobody spoke. Then Kate said, “I don’t see this ending well.” Because apparently the theme was “things you can use to cook my dinner with”.
The first stocking stuffer was a shaker of spices. I looked at it curiously, and Ken said, “You can use it to sprinkle on the potatoes when you roast them!” He was getting nervous. I smiled, and opened the next gift—a jar of pizza spice “for when you make homemade pizza.” This was followed by a grinder full of chipotle and pink Havana sea salt, and a selection of “peppercorns from around the world”. At this point the smiling kind of stopped. I didn’t know quite what to make of any of it, except that I had a lot of cooking ahead of me, and it was going to be very spicy. But that’s OK—I really like cooking, and in retrospect, they were pretty cool gifts with a lot of thought behind them (even if he did buy them all at Homesense on Christmas Eve). But the main point is that I don’t really care about presents all that much. At this time of year, I like to remember one of my favourite quotations: The best things in life aren’t things. The most awesome gift of all is having Ken and Kate (and her boyfriend) with me on Christmas morning. And like the Whos down in Whoville say, “Christmas day will always be/Just as long as we have we.” Plus this year, Ken got me the wine fridge that I asked for, two bottles of very good wine to go in it, and some other nice things, so I never once had to say “Thank you, it’s beautiful”.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Peaceful Solstice, and all the joy of the season to you and yours.