When my husband and I first got married, buying Christmas presents for each other was easy. We were young and strapped for cash, so we both had a long list of things that we really wanted and would be happy to find wrapped up under the tree on Christmas morning. I always tried for a variety when purchasing my husband’s gifts, usually settling on something like new after-shave lotion, a wallet, a flannel shirt and maybe a money clip. My husband was a firm believer in going with a sure thing, which is why one year I received four wool skirts, purchased from the Bargain Basement of a local department store. They were the exact same skirt, only in different colors. And he knew I would like them and they were the right size, because I already had one hanging in my closet. I actually saw him checking the tag on it one day in early December.
But as the years have gone by, Christmas shopping for each other has become more of a challenge. My husband now has plenty of clothes, a good supply of after-shave lotion, and there’s only so many years in a row that I can get away with giving a money clip or a wallet. But the problem is that there’s rarely anything new or original on his Christmas list. He usually asks for a new golf glove, even though he only plays golf about once a year. Apparently, each time he plays, he manages to lose his glove.
I know he doesn’t have it any easier trying to buy me a gift. Most of my favorite authors aren’t especially popular and their books are out of print and hard to find. Since I have reached the age where my body has, how shall I say, both settled and expanded, I usually need to try on any new clothes before buying. And like my husband, I honestly have all the things I need and most of the things I want. (Or at least the sort of things that can be wrapped and put under a tree. The last I checked, world peace, end to animal and child abuse, etc. don’t fit in a gift box.)
But that’s okay, because with each year that goes by, I find myself even less focused the gift-giving aspect of Christmas. We will, of course, exchange some gifts with each other and our kids on Christmas morning, and it will be a fun time. But those aren’t the real Christmas gifts at all. The real gift was having some friends over for a Christmas celebration, all crammed together in my living room, talking and laughing. It was having the kids and their spouses for dinner and a rowdy game of bingo, and then meeting them a few nights later for a drink at a festive, if somewhat tacky, pop-up Christmas bar. And tonight, it will be singing Silent Night in a beautiful sanctuary, lit only by the candles in our hands. It’s a magical moment that, for me, defines the whole Christmas season.
Christmas shopping may be more difficult these days, but as far as I’m concerned, my Christmas gifts–those moments and memories that I truly treasure–just keep getting better.