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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Sometimes wife's best gift to husband is to pick out her own

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By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Staff Writer

When it comes to gift-giving, my husband and I operate under a strict "Don't ask, don't tell" policy: He doesn't ask me what I want for Christmas, and I don't tell him how much the gift I bought for myself cost.

Maybe we've been married too long, but I figure I'm doing him a big favor. Most men I know would rather have their toenails removed with pliers than step foot in a mall at Christmastime. And just because a guy likes to shop doesn't mean he has good taste.

Remember, these are people who don't even buy their own underwear and still need to have their clothes laid out for them so that they don't walk out of the house wearing brown shoes with black slacks.

At Christmas and other gift-giving holidays, these poor souls — who can't figure out when we need a hug or when to back off — suddenly find themselves on the precipice of making a decision that could alter the fate of their relationship.

Imagine the internal conversation that must take place when a guy's picking out a present for his sweetheart:

Fine jewelry? Try wait, diamonds are forever, yah? Uh, what else?

Maybe a home or kitchen appliance? ("So you're telling me I need to do more housework and cooking?")

Sexy lingerie? ("Oh, so now I'm a sex object?!")

Cash? (Don't even go there.)

Meanwhile, we ladies are off merrily picking out novelty boxer shorts and digital tire gauges without a second thought.

I have tried telling my husband exactly what I want, but sometimes even that's too complicated. One year, I asked for a Crockpot and he bought me an electric skillet. (Yes, male reader, there is a difference.) Or, we use the children as intermediaries. "Don't forget, it's Titlelist Pro V1," I overheard him instructing the kids last week.

On most occasions, we simply abandon the pretense and leave the shopping to me. It's become a running joke: "Hi, Hon, look what you bought for me today!"

That's not to say my spouse hasn't presented me with effective gifts. One Christmas when he gave me a cheapie makeup organizer, I was terribly touched because it showed he had taken a few minutes to think about what I needed.

Of course, if he had taken a few more minutes, he might have realized that my problem with bathroom clutter runs much deeper than lack of organizers.

Please don't misunderstand me. I am not ungrateful. I just don't put too much stock into mandated gift-giving. The most sincere gestures of love and romance come when you least expect them, and not when tradition and the Retail Merchants Association of America demand it.

Like when he shows up at the office unannounced to take me out to lunch, or remembers that Hot Tamales are my favorite candy, or buys me a goofy sun hat at the swap meet.

Or when I come home from a dreadful day at work to find that he scrubbed the kitchen floor — OK, that's usually when he wants to play golf, but at least he knows my weak spot.

Merry Christmas, Baby.

Reach Christie Wilson at cwilson@honoluluadvertiser.com.