SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

October 25, 2012

Column: In search of a perfect gift

Some people are great at giving thoughtful gifts. My Auntie Patti has an uncanny knack for finding a perfect treasure that elegantly announces to its recipient, “How well I know and love you, my dear one!”

Aside from a rare burst of inspiration, my gift clumsily blurts out, “Had no idea what to get, so I got you this. Don’t worry, it’s returnable.”

That’s why, even though it’s only October, holiday shopping discussions give me heart palpitations. Forget dreaming of a white Christmas, I dream of having a personal shopper.

Once I saw a personal shopper interviewed on TV who earns $500,000 a year selecting the gifts a rich husband bestows on his wife. “I know his wife’s taste,” the glamorous and confident shopper explained. (Obviously, the husband doesn’t, but I’d give him an A for effort.)

In the “real world,” most of us have to budget for the holidays. Some couples I know forgo gift buying or donate to charity instead — a smart idea since gift giving within a marriage can be like tiptoeing through a minefield. I’m thinking of one woman I know, a size M, whose husband “supersized” her with a Patriots sweatshirt in size XL. She proclaimed to everyone who would listen, “If he thinks this shirt is my size, he’s going to see me wearing it every night for the rest of his life!”

My clever strategy in buying for my husband is to ask what he wants and to go buy it. Generally, it’s an item he’s been considering that becomes “justified” with the approaching birthday or holiday.

But for me (and please forgive my obvious double standard), it feels tacky and unromantic to specify a gift I’d like for myself. According to one female friend, “If you have to spell it out, you might as well just go out and buy your own (colorful word here) gift. (I’d agree with this if it weren’t for that budget issue.)

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