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October 31, 2003

Gift Rapping

It is that time of year, almost exactly between my wife's birthday and mine. For this month we are the same age in whole numerals, but it's also the time when one of our main differences rears its ugly head: choosing gifts for each other. I was raised in a house where birthday and Christmas presents were wonderful surprises, things you never knew you wanted until you unwrapped something special and unique. My wife's family takes the opposite approach: to avoid long return lines, they make lists and coordinate purchases with each other. The lists often consisting of fun stuff like books, movies, and toys, but have socks, undergarments and other practical items thrown in for balance.

Our first Christmas (we had been dating nine months), I racked my brain for the perfect gift for my (then) girlfriend. Knowing her penchant for wanting something practical, yet wanting to surprise her, I picked her up something that to this day she says is her best Christmas present ever: an electric drill. (Some back history: my wife is the handyman in our house, I'm just her cheap labor. When we go to the hardware store, she talks to the salesmen and I play with the bright and shiny objects.)

We've compromised a little in seven years together. I'll make a list and remember to drop hints for what I want, and my wife will accept that the perfect gift does not necessarily come from a list. And hon, if you're reading this, an engraved iPod would be sweet and useful...

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