Oh, how I love the holidays. Rest. Relaxation. Time with friends. Surprising the family with gifts. Remembering the reason for the season. All of these are a wonderful break from the reality of day-to-day living.
Of course, there are some things I don’t like about the holidays. Here’s the short list:
The Little Drummer Boy – I hate this song. Every version of it. And especially this version:
I won’t argue with you about the message of the song – I get that the words are meaningful. I still hate the song. Period.
Driving and parking and shopping – Does everyone lose their minds at Christmastime? Today, at Kroger, a lady nearly took me out near the cheese because she was desperate to get to the eggs before me. Literally, I thought I was a goner. This doesn’t even take into account the number of times I was nearly killed in the parking lot. Ugh.
The Santa Claus debate – You don’t want to tell your kids about Santa – that’s fine. But please don’t tell my kids that Santa is Satan’s demon helper that tries to ruin the message of Christmas. I’ll take care of my own kids, thank-you-very-much.
And most of all…
I hate Christmas shopping for the Wifie.
You might be thinking, “but wait, you said that you love surprising the family with gifts.” And I did say that. And that’s the crux of it – the wifie is impossible to surprise with gifts. I’m not kidding you when I say that she has a 6th sense totally devoted to figuring out what her presents are for any occasion. In thirteen years of marriage, I have only surprised her with a Christmas gift once. Last year, I managed to keep the concert tickets I bought for her a secret, but only because it was an “additional” gift that I got last second and after we had already agreed we were done shopping for each other. In essence, I had to cheat to surprise her.
As you might imagine, this is exhausting and unfulfilling work. Usually she knows by late November, giving me nothing to live for as it relates to gifting on Christmas. However, buoyed by my quasi-success last year, I purposed in my heart that I would surprise the wifie this Christmas. No way would she figure out the gift this time around.
I developed a formula for success.
1. Buy something she hasn’t asked for this year
2. Buy something that I have heard her talk about in the past, but not something she is thinking about right now
3. Don’t give even a hint of a clue of what it might be
4. Lie through my teeth if necessary in the name of maintaining the surprise
5. Delight her with my cleverness on Christmas Day
When I decided to embark on a Black Fri-Thurs-day excursion, I was fully prepared to find just the right bauble for under the tree. And find it I did. At Best Buy, one Black Friday purchase kept whispering to me – the Kindle Fire HD. It was on a Black Friday special, and it is something she has always wanted. For you see, the wifie is a voracious reader, and she is usually limited to reading on her tiny iPhone. She hadn’t asked for it, nor had she talked about it in a while, but I knew she had wanted one in the past. My magic formula was clearly going to pay dividends, and I snatched up a Kindle Fire for my lady.
I drove home feeling slick and pleased with myself. Finally, after twelve mostly fruitless years of gifting, I would have the last laugh.
Later on Friday, I was at home and wifie was out shopping. She called from Meijer. “Hey, you didn’t happen to buy me a Kindle Fire for Christmas, did you?”
I had to respond quickly, lest the surprise be lost. “Pfft, no. Why would you think that?” Straight to Point 4 of my plan.
“Well, I know you went to Best Buy, and I noticed they had it in their ad, and I was hoping maybe you got it for me.”
Success!!! I had picked the right present!!! But I needed to tread carefully or all would be lost.
“Well, to be honest, I had picked it up and thought about it, but I put it back down.” That wasn’t even a lie! I had picked it up, set it down, and picked it up again! My plan was intact!
“OK, well, the reason I ask is because I am at Meijer, and they have this quilted Kindle Fire case that is beautiful. If you had bought me one, I was going to buy it. If not, I was thinking of buying it to sell on eBay. It’s $5 on clearance, and they are selling for $30 on eBay.”
Hmmm… this proved to be a bit of a dilemma, but not for long. I operate under the old adage “Know thy Wifie,” and I know that she frequently buys stuff to sell, but then it just ends up in a pile in the basement or my old office/storage room (it’s called Lutz-itis, perhaps you’ve heard of it). I could casually tell her to buy something to go along with her own gift, and she would be none the wiser. “Oh for sure, babe. Buy it and sell it on eBay. That’s super smart.” Christmas just got even better, with a new quilted case for the new Kindle Fire.
True to form, wifie brought home the case, showed it to me, and then set it aside to sell on eBay at some future date. My guess was the date would be sometime in 2017. My surprise was secure. She had no idea what was coming, and that she had bought the first accessory for it.
Several weeks passed, with Christmas growing ever nearer. I bought a few more items to supplement the Kindle, but the joy of surprising the wifie became an all consuming glow about me. This was the most joy I had felt since being a boy coming downstairs to find Castle Greyskull under the tree. She had never gone this long without guessing her gift. Moreover, she wasn’t even trying. Can you say best Christmas ever?
A few nights ago, I was laying in bed at about 10:15 when the wifie traipsed into the room. She handed me her phone and said, “Can you look this over before I post it?”
I took her phone and looked at the screen.
It was an eBay ad for the quilted Kindle case.
“Aren’t you so proud of me? I’m finally selling stuff on eBay!!!”
At this point, I had to think quickly. I knew she would be mad at me if I allowed her to sell the case, but I couldn’t give up the Christmas surprise. I’d come too far to give in. But what could I do to stop her?
So I pretended to be falling asleep.
Now, she should have seen through this right away. I never go to bed at 10:00. More like 12:00 or 1:00 every single day. But I had to try something. So I went with, “*grunt* Really? It’s 10:15 and you’re supposed to be in bed, and you’re starting your eBay business right now?”
“You’ve been after me for months to sell this stuff, and now you are going to be mean to me,” she growled indignantly. “I’m just trying out help out by making extra money.”
Yikes. Time to soften the conversation. “No, it’s really great. It’s just that I am so tired, and I was just about to fall asleep.” I yawned and smacked my lips for good measure.
“Oh, that’s fine,” she said. “I just want you to take a look at it real quick, and I’ll go ahead and post it.”
Not to be denied, eh? Time to try evasive maneuvers. “Hmm… looks like your Paypal account isn’t linked. I’ll just try to link it tomorrow, ok?”
“Can’t you do it now?”
“No, I don’t know your info. I can do it tomorrow.” I turned over and hunkered down under the covers, willing sleep to come to escape this trap. Tomorrow the eBay sale would be forgotten, and my surprise safe.
“Oh, ok.” Crestfallen, she walked from the room. I actually felt bad, but that’s what she gets for 13 years of torment.
A few minutes later, just as I was emerging from under the covers to begin reading, she walked back in with a huge smile on her face. “I just figured out how to link my Paypal account to the ad. Can I post it now?”
Why? Why, oh why, did she pick this – of all days – to start her eBay business? And why the heck was she so determined to post the ad tonight?
Sleep was suddenly upon me again. “Mkayyy… I… I’ll look at it while youuuu go and sa… say good-night to the gurrrrllls…”
“OK!!!” She nearly skipped out of the room.
Now, in this moment, I very nearly deleted the ad. I had the little delete button pulled up, and I was *this close* to pulling the trigger. But I thought it might forever kill her eBay ambitions, and I want those things sold. So instead, I went back into acting mode. I “fell asleep” with the phone just at my fingertips.
She walked back in a few moments later. “Ugh. You can’t even stay awake long enough to look at the ad?”
“Mmm… s’kay. Look tomorr… oh…”
*Grrrrr* I knew that sound meant trouble. I opened the eye closest to the bed. Sure enough, she had the eBay screen pulled up, and was about to press the “Submit” button. I had no choice. My hand shot out and grabbed the phone.
“Just wait for tomorrow, ok? I want to make sure it’s OK!”
“What’s your problem,” she fired back as she grabbed the phone. “Go back to sleep and let me post my ad.”
She went to hit the button again. My hand shot out again. “WHY CAN”T YOU JUST WAIT?”
Her eyes narrowed in anger. “WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM? YOU’RE ASLEEP! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?!?!”
Somewhere inside of me, something broke. I was yelling before I even knew words were coming out of me.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO SAY? THAT I BOUGHT YOU A KINDLE FIRE FOR CHRISTMAS, SO YOU CAN’T SELL THIS? CONSIDER IT SAID!!!!!”
Her eyes, which had truly been daggers, opened widely, and a huge grin split her face. “Really?” she giggled. She GIGGLED!!!
I stormed from the room.
A few minuted later, my righteous indignation under control, I walked back into the room. She was laying facedown on the bed, body slightly convulsing. “Are you crying or laughing,” I asked.
“Both,” she grinned as she sat up. “I’m so excited! I mean, I know you are probably sad because I guessed your present yet again, but you should know that I am ALWAYS happy when I figure out what the surprise is, whenever that might be. It’s just never on Christmas!” But I am super happy!!!”
Thanks for the explanation. I really appreciate it. “Why on earth did you decide to sell stuff on eBay tonight?”
“I have no idea! It’s just the way things happen. I’m destined to know my presents!”
“SOOOOOO, can I have it now?” she said with an impish smile on her face.
“But I’m still so happy,” she taunted.
So 2013 will be no different in our household. The daughters and wifie will open presents and be happy, and I will sit on the couch, lamenting yet again that I simply cannot outsmart the wifie. Maybe it’s time to embrace that fact…
But there’s always next year…