Getting a coupla things off my chest

Posted on Updated on

Brutal Honesty

It’s Christmas, almost. And no, I’m not purposefully excluding Hannukah, or Kwanzaa, or whatever religious holiday you happen to celebrate because, let’s be honest, the mall isn’t decorated with African Misumaa Saba hanging from the ceilings; nor is Toys R Us headlining its weekly circular with this year’s “must have” dreidel. It’s Christmas that everyone is celebrating and shopping for, and it’s Christmas that we celebrate around here, so it’s our reference point.

Regardless of what you call it, and despite whatever efforts we all make to try and put a fine religious point on it, the real tradition revolves around giving. It’s a sort of giving that should be effortless and from the heart, not forced or something that involves a worrisome bunch of effort.

I pretty much finished my shopping a couple of weeks ago. This is largely because I cut back on the gift-giving this year; a trend that I see repeating itself in years to come. But since it is such a departure from my normal behavior around the holidays, it has caused me no small amount of guilt and self-introspection. So, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this whole idea of gift giving and what kinds of “rules” one should have when it comes to turning around the cash people give you and just giving it to other people in the form of gifts. Because that’s really what we’re doing right?

Anyway, something crystallized in my head the other day. I think it was just this past weekend when CareerMom casually mentioned, “I have no idea what I’m getting you.”

Now normally, a comment like this would have just “VROOM’d” over my head like something out of Peanut comedy bit; but, in light of the cud chewing I’d been doing lately around gifts, this comment hit me kind of sideways and I thought to myself, “Well, if you don’t know by now, then don’t even worry about it.”

Now doesn’t that sound like an odd thing to say?

But the more I think on it, the more I’m almost offended, which is insanity incarnate. But, stick with me here:

If, two weeks outside of Christmas, you haven’t “bothered” to figure out what you’re giving the most important person in your life; then maybe your priorities are screwed up.

That’s a really awful thing to say about a spouse I know, and granted, some of this sentiment is probably rub off from the feeling that I’ve been very neglected lately since CareerMom started her new job. She’s way more career-oriented than I am and, to her credit, she does work hard. And when I say that I feel neglected, I don’t mean “physically” neglected, mind you, but I do feel as if I’ve been carrying a heavier load of late regarding things around the house and just “home” responsibilities in general.

And then there’s the whole money thing. I save up for Christmas all year so I’m not burdened at the end of the year. CareerMom does not, and she made an offhanded comment about waiting till her check on the 15th (as in December 15th) to see how much she could go spend. And, this was after I gave her some of my Christmas cash to dole out to Daycare teachers and such. Meanwhile, she’s spending gobs on her brother and his wife and has it all planned out and decided on. Yet, she has no idea what she’s getting me???

And so again, I’m feeling like, this Christmas, it’s all on me and it’s honestly just rubbing me very much the wrong way.

Yeah, I know, “Sensitive much?” You’re right, I’m being completely juvenile about it and anyway, isn’t Christmas supposed to be about the other person anyway?

Yes, yes, and yes. Of course, you’re all right. Go ahead, let me have it.

10 thoughts on “Getting a coupla things off my chest

    trishatruly said:
    December 11, 2008 at 9:42 am

    There’s nothing wrong with getting this out there and off your chest. It’s far better to do that than to bottle it all up till you explode or push it down inside in denial. That comes back to bite your ass, I’m tellin’ ya!

    It was very insensitive of her to say that. It seems to me that the more one invests in a career the less there is left over for the people in one’s life emotionally. It’s like there’s only so much room and no more. I know. I dealt with that for over thirty years!!

    Talk to her. Tell her how you feel. Even if she doesn’t “get” it you can know that you tried. And who knows. Maybe she’ll start to think about it and change her outlook a little in favor of the most important person in her life…YOU! Maybe she’s just not aware or is less in tune than you. It could happen. If she doesn’t really know that something is broken she can’t fix it. Some people have to be hit in the head (figuratively!) before they see!

    Anyway, good luck. And Merry Kwanzaa!

    RE: Merry Kwanzaa!
    Thanks for the comment. We actually had this talk a while back, although the circumstances were a bit different. Still, the point was the same. It’s not something you just want to bring up, cuz you know feelings are gonna get hurt. I’ll dwell on it though and see if I’m up to it.

    Eric said:
    December 11, 2008 at 10:09 am

    You should feel completely justified by all your thoughts…
    I, myself, would feel the same way if my wife didn’t think “waaaaay” ahead of time for what to get me for Christmas…

    I actually put her present on layaway this year so she wouldn’t find it by snooping!

    I am in total agreement, and sometimes being ‘brutally honest’ is a good thing.

    Happy Christmas, Cheers!


    RE: It’s good to know I’m not “weird” in my feeings. Course…they say “Birds of a feather…” and all, so maybe we’re all weird! HA!

    Eric said:
    December 11, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    This is true!

    romi41 said:
    December 11, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    I’m not going to let you have it, not at all 🙂 …I think perhaps it’s the idea of gifts that has become screwed up; like if we all had the same perception of “gifts” as we’re supposed to have (i.e. NOT the monetary/material focus, but instead to give something to the one you love that’s a reflection of how you feel about them, or that shows how much you mean to them), then I bet you five-hundred percent your wife’s number one priority would be to figure out FAR in advance what your gift should be, because you ARE the most important person in her life (and the kids, of course).

    That being said, you echoed it yourself with how the malls have been decorated for Christmas and it’s all about the shopping. So basically after many decades and decades of Christmas being the “biggest shopping time of the year”, gifts have now come to represent something about the person GIVING them (i.e. their stature, wealth, etc), instead of the gift being about the person receiving it. Therefore, of course her brother’s gift was WAY planned out in advance, because it’s more of how it reflects her and how she can impress them, because that will make her look good (I’m not saying anyone thinks about it this way consciously, but I believe that it has happened). But when it comes to you, much like she doesn’t have to dress up in front of you to impress you anymore, she also doesn’t have to put six months of thought and attention into trying to impress you with a gift.

    So you are totally justified, I just think that you’re feeling a little off because you’re looking at it in that pure way (the way we SHOULD be looking at it…).

    Or maybe this makes no sense…haha…

    PS: I love the pic of your family in the side-bar! 🙂

    RE: You actually make a lot of sense Romi! Which is why I like you 🙂
    You’re probably right; she doesn’t feel the need to “impress” me, so doing so isn’t up there at the top. Good comment!

    birdpress said:
    December 11, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I feel the same way about that sort of thing. Not this, specifically, but it amounts to the same thing. I want forethought and preparation. I want my husband to care enough to say “I have no idea what I’m getting you for Christmas this year” in June. So yeah, your feelings are totally understandable.

    RE: EXACTLY! I feel as if, if it’s that much of a hassle to figure out what you want to give me, then whatever you give me will probably be whatever shiny thing you saw on the shelf, rather than something you really thought I’d like, in which case, I’d rather you didn’t spend the money.
    Smart girl!

    The Father of Five said:
    December 11, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    This is where we differ a bit here P&P.

    Not getting a gift would not be an issue for me. I like giving gifts, but hate receiving them. Christmas is not bad because everyone is opening gifts, but birthdays…. I HATE my birthday. I despise being the only open opening gifts. It sort of goes along with my “social anxiety” issues.

    I love giving gifts, and hate receiving them.

    I do have to be honest here, I too have a hard time finding “just the right thing” for the Mother of five. Until recently (with only one income) our gifts were “practical”. I have found a few “hit that one out of the ballpark” gifts over the years, but mostly – I struggle.

    This year? We agreed that since our digital camera pooped out on us, that we would go out and buy a little bit nicer camera than we normally would, and call it a gift to each other.

    I am happy with that… But I’ll still end up getting MOF a little somethin-somethin just for her…

    (rolling my eyes).. Now if I could just come up with something…

    RE: See, the one thing I didn’t say, which I did say to Birdpress down there, is that at this point, I’d really rather she didn’t spend the money. I mean, I know it’s not going to be something I’ve asked for, or that she’s just really been wanting to get me because she just KNOWS I’ll love it. I would be perfectly fine with not getting anything; but, the caveat is that I’d only be happy with that idea if we had decided together NOT to get each other anything, which we didn’t. I mean, I didn’t spend much on CareerMom this year either, but what I did get her, I really think she’ll like.

    And, if I knew anything about your wife at all, I’d recommend something, but I got nothin’! You’ll come up with something though!

    The Father of Five said:
    December 11, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    P.S. I had not noticed it until today (or maybe it’s new..) but I like the wreath in place of the Postulates “O” !! Nice touch!!

    RE: Thanks! I also tried to find a big angelic star to shine down on it, but I couldn’t find one, which I thought was strange. Oh well…

    allison said:
    December 13, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    I’m completely with you on this topic. Every year, by June, I have my husbands presents all thought out and most of them bought. Him? I have to drop hints and recruit our daughter to TELL him what I want and she makes sure her dad actually goes out and buys them. So although Christmas is my favorite holiday and about the only one I celebrate — it isn’t much fun for me since I always know what I’m getting, and watching the others’ eyes light up when they open gifts from me just doesn’t quite do it for me. Yeah, I’m selfish that way. I want to be surprised, too.

    RE: I totally agree. While, there is value in getting what you actually want, it’s more fun to be surprised. Oh well…we should start our own club.

    Stacey said:
    December 14, 2008 at 11:35 am

    I know the Captain never even begins to think about my gifts until the last possible minute, but I can tell that he does try hard to get me something he thinks I’ll love (even if he’s usually horribly off the mark). When he says, “I have no idea what to get you this year” it means, “Please help me so you don’t have to make that I’m-pretending-to-like-this face which makes me feel like I don’t know you at all.”

    RE: Ha! CareerMom’s dad’s the same way. For as long as I can remember, he’s waited till the last coupla weeks before Christmas, and then drags CareerMom or one of the other girl-children off to the mall!

    pamajama said:
    December 16, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    I read this entry a couple of days ago and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Get out of my brain, man! lol

    I’m sure it’s partially because of guilt, knowing that in many ways I’ve finally given up on getting my husband anything surprising. He’s told me for so many years that he doesn’t care, doesn’t want anything, blah, blah, blah, yet I never really believe that. Most of the time we get stuff when we need it & so there’s not much we need specifically in December.

    We had crazy Christmases when I was a kid & I still am bound and determined to appreciate my family members daily, not just try and make up to them one day of the year. Still it’s the piece about being thoughtful enough to notice when something comes up, remember it, and follow through. I am as impatient as a child, so if I buy things too early there’s a good chance I’ll give them away long before it’s time. This is a personality thing, I think. When I read the comment from Allison above I nearly choked on the idea of being so organized! If I’m supposed to have gifts bought by June — F ME — I give up.

    As for your situation specifically, I think it’s about feeling unappreciated. If your wife were telling you each morning how thankful she is that you are home taking care of the kids so that she doesn’t have to be worried all day at work, so that she can concentrate on her career and know that the best father in the entire world is at home giving your children daddy time, something that means more than any toy or video game — I think it would be different. I also think if she wrote such a thing down on a piece of paper and had it framed it might be the best possible gift ever.

    So what’s my grade? Am I on target or what?

    RE: You’re not far off, and I admitted that I think. The thing is, this whole “unappreciated” thing is new. Like many marriages I’m sure, when we were newlyweds, she was very “giving” with her thanks and her appreciation. Three of my most prized possessions are small, decorative bottles (from PIER ONE I think) that she stuck a note into for each of our first three anniversaries. Each note was a very touching description of how much she loved and appreciated what I’d done for the past year. Now, I’m no idiot. I know that kind of ardour can’t last, but just every now and then, a little bit of it would be nice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s