by Ann Waterman
I love O. Henry’s beautiful story of marital self-sacrifice in the The Gift of the Magi, but my more pragmatic side wonders if Jim and Della could have averted their gift-giving tragedy with a little more communication beforehand — maybe with something like, say, an Amazon wish list?
Of course, that’s just me. My husband and I acknowledged early on in our marriage that neither of us relishes the hunt for the perfect gift, which typically results in debilitating indecision and paralysis about what to buy. It’s not that we don’t like giving gifts; we just want to be sure we’re giving the right gift. We don’t have many wants (coupled with a dislike for clutter) and agree that targeted gift-giving with the aid of a wish list makes for a happier, stress-free holiday for both of us. Of course, we sometimes go off the reservation, but it’s nice knowing there’s a little help figuring out the other’s wants if we need it. If it’s OK for kids to give a wish list to Santa, why not adults?
We agree on a gift budget beforehand and usually stick to it pretty closely. Since we do most of our shopping online, it can be hard to hide those incoming packages from one another, but we only open those addressed to us and set aside those that aren’t. And as the bookkeeper and bill-payer of the house, I avert my eyes from the credit card statement the week before Christmas (the time my husband inevitably waits to make his purchases) so there’s at least a little surprise Christmas morning.
I’m always interested to hear how couples handle Christmas gift-giving. I have some friends who love to be surprised, and a wish list for them would be a real killjoy; others truly enjoy the process of researching and finding the right gift. And, of course, there are the more practical matters: Is there a set spending limit? And in an age where almost every transaction can be tracked electronically, how do you keep gifts a secret?
So, tell me about your gift-giving traditions for your special loved ones… I’d love to hear how you do it!
Image: Ann Waterman