The Gift of Giving

With December comes the stress of choosing that perfect gift and making all of those dreams listed in the Christmas list to Santa come true. However,while my children now come with a handy guide in the guise of their letters to Santa – although sometimes there are ridiculous requests that cannot be entertained, such as a pet panda – my husband is not as easy to please. He doesn’t read books, listen to any particular music or play computer games. He does indulge in extreme sports, but gifts in this category are well and truly out of my price range. So what to do when it comes to choosing something clever, interesting and – dare I say – romantic?

I was out with some girlfriends last week for Christmas cocktails and our conversation turned to the topic of giving at Christmas. They were all adamant that they have learnt not to expect their husbands to buy them anything any more. After years of watching their husbands’ tortured faces in the shops on Christmas Eve buying anything they can get their hands on, they have all decided that the best idea is to buy something for themselves and then get their other halves to wrap it up and put it under the tree. I get that this means you receive something you really want and like, but it is too easy for my liking. Surely my other half should be spending as much time agonising over the perfect gift as I do for the entire family? Why should it be easier for him when he doesn’t have to think of interesting gifts for the children, extended family, neighbour or old Mrs Beatty down the road?

I expect a surprise under the tree every year – something that shows my other half has thought about my likes and dislikes, and that he may occasionally listen to what I am saying when I am dropping enormous hints over our morning porridge. Some years he gets it right – especially when throwing money at the problem and going for the small and sparkly option (she hints in case he happens to be reading this before Christmas) – and other years he has missed the boat completely. Our first Christmas together was a case in point when he decided that two porcelain pigs were a good idea. For sentimental reasons, I still have them – and to remind him of what not to buy.

I recently overheard my mother complaining to my father about this very topic. When she asked if she would have anything to open on Christmas morning, his prompt response about his trousers elicited giggles from her and retching from me as I hastened from the room. Too much information.

So in the spirit of giving at this festive time of year, as I frantically organise next-day deliveries and battle the hordes of women elbowing through John Lewis, I hope you all get something you really want, as well as a little surprise on Christmas morning that reminds you that Christmas is more than the receiving; it is seeing the joy on their faces when you get it right for a change.

*please let it be small and sparkly… please let it be small and sparkly…*

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