Now that the holidays are fully upon us, we can all embrace this beautiful season of peace, joy, love and hope.
It truly is the best roughly 42 seconds of the year, am I right? Because someone, whose name isn’t important but to whom I have been wed for more than three decades, thinks I am the antithesis of the true Christmas spirit.
See, I’m very careful about how much I spend on each person, so no one ends up getting something more valuable than the other.
“That’s not the way it works,” said Duh Hubby as he observed me hunched over my phone calculator surrounded by flyers from Costco, Target and Kohl’s. “It shouldn’t matter how much you spend as long as it’s a thoughtful gift.”
I paused to gaze at him with that open-hearted love that can only come from having the same argument for three decades. Which is to say I looked as if I wanted to shank him in the kidneys.
“So, let me get this straight, person who never shops for any of his relatives, you think it’s OK to give one of your sisters, say, a cappuccino machine and the other a canned ham from CVS?
“Sure. It shouldn’t be about how much you spend but rather if it’s something you think they might like. One likes coffee; one likes ham. All good.”
You know that thing where you mock-mouth someone with their own words back to them but with your face all scrunched up and your voice all weird? That was me.
“You don’t have to be mean about it,” said Duh. “Look, my sisters aren’t keeping score. It’s not like they’d even notice.”
“Have you ever actually MET your sisters?” I asked. Sweetly.
“You’re just applying your own standards to others. Nobody has a big ledger where they keep tabs on this stuff.”
Hmmph. Someone clearly hasn’t been in the attic lately.
Duh’s high minded attitude did give me pause, though. I immediately focus-grouped some women friends to find out if I should give gifts without considering the fairness factor as I like to call it.
“Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no,” they said. “You have to give presents worth the exact same amount or feelings will be hurt.”
I told Duh Hubby my findings and he scoffed. SCOFFED.
I carried it a step further and polled some guy friends. No shock here, but they all laughed at the notion that gifts must be of equal value.
“Who cares?” they said stupidly.
I told Duh the results of my “research” the next morning.
“Do you think this is the true spirit of the holidays?” he asked while gulping orange juice straight from the jug in the fridge.
“Yes. And I’ll tell you why…When the Three Wise Men showed up their gifts were comparable. What do you think Mary and Joseph would’ve said if they rolled up with gold, frankincense and a three-pack of onesies from Ollie’s?” Mary would have definitely called that third wise man “triflin’.”
“That’s crazy,” said Duh Hubby. “The only people who might care about relative value would be very little kids. Say if two kids are sisters and each of them got a shiny new bicycle and the other one, say their little brother, got a Book of Lifesavers and some socks…”
Whoa. Had I finally hit a nerve?
No, couldn’t be. Every Christmas I watched in admiration as my mother-in-law dutifully pulled out “just in case” gifts hidden in drawers, cabinets and closets so she could be sure everyone’s stocking was exactly the same value.
While I agree the focus shouldn’t be on money, it should be on no hurt feelings. But, to be clear: Gold is always a good idea. It’s right there in the bible.