I suck at birthdays. Not mine—turning another year older doesn’t bother me (too much). It’s the birthdays of my family and friends that tend to stress me out. How much of a fuss is too much? How much is too little? Yes, these are the kind of first world problems that plague my life.
This past week was my husband’s birthday. Not a milestone one or anything, but a birthday just the same. He’s a low-maintenance guy, so just coming up with gift ideas to tell people for Christmas is hard enough. It’s to the point where no one asks him anymore—they ask me instead. As his wife, I should know what he’d like, right? Yet this is one of the areas in which I fail. I live day in and day out with this man, and somehow manage to not make note as to what he could unwrap that would make him smile. Oh sure, there’s the practical ideas—like new fingernail clippers just for him because any pair we own seem to magically disappear—but who wants to unwrap THAT? Besides, as a grown man, he can pick up those practical types of things he needs whenever he wants to.
Up a notch from the ultra-practical, there are the somewhat-practical types of gifts—like clothes or shoes. Although not the favored gift for most of the ten and under crowd, clothes are something adults can appreciate it. As his spouse, I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing what sizes and styles work and which ones don’t. But he did get some clothes just last month for Christmas, and he’s wanting to lose weight, so I didn’t want to go the clothes route.
The parts/tools route—that train left a long time ago. He’s a tool-guy, but already has multiple drills, cordless screwdrivers, various saws and work benches, socket sets and the like. I couldn’t tell you what he was looking to replace or upgrade—even if I asked him, he’d say he didn’t need any more tools. They are kind of his go-to impulse buy. Some strange things that were not on his list follow him home from Lowes and Home Depot.
This year I went with the tried and true—fishing gear, but what was specifically mentioned in conversation—a soft-sided tackle box. I painstakingly sought out the perfect one. It has pockets for everything—cell phone, sunglasses and small tools. It’s a cool color scheme-red and black. It has a worm binder thing that amounts to some zippered pages. I even got it in time for his birthday. I think he liked it. He’s a hard read sometimes.
“Look at all those pockets!” I gushed.
“Yeah, those are great,” he acknowledged. Have I mentioned he’s not very demonstrative about gifts?
In the end, my gift was graciously accepted and was a notable keeper. The kids’ presents—a BBQ lighter shaped like a double-barrel shotgun, running pants and a Nike shirt—were all appreciated appropriately.
But we were all outdone.
My sister-in-law, Katie, originally due in mid-February, gave birth to our nephew just hours before the end of Darrell’s birthday. We now have a beautiful new member of our family. He’s healthy and we’re all to the moon and back happy and excited.
How do you compete with that?
Because in the end, anything you unwrap will be cool for a while. Even the most anticipated gifts lose their luster and anything you unwrap is just that—a thing. A sweet little baby trumps a tackle box (even one with really great pockets) any day!
Welcome to the family, Callen Michael!