Christmas is over. I have opened all of my presents and now it’s time to take stock of my loot. This year was a little different because we went to Miami on Christmas Day. We didn’t put up a tree (my Jewish friends are still bitching about this because they like to decorate it). So, I hauled out a small, plastic fiber light tree that only lasted about a week because I started seeing fiber light strings in the cat poop and realized they were eating the branches. Our total Christmas decorations then consisted of three stockings hanging on the fireplace mantel and a manger scene on a TV table. Even my neighbor said to me, “It looks like Jews live here.” I’ll admit they weren’t the most festive looking decorations and they looked even less festive when we put the wrapped presents under the TV table. This should have been an omen.
There were three gifts for me this year from Tim. One was in a small box so I knew it was the Fitbit I had asked for (and had sent him the link showing which one I wanted and what color to get – Surprise!). The other two boxes were larger and beautifully wrapped. I mean really beautifully wrapped. Wrapped like someone who knew what they were doing – and not monkeys – wrapped them. This was highly unusual. My gifts are normally wrapped with scrap wrapping paper (not always matching) and not always big enough to cover the entire box. Or they’re in crumpled up holiday bags from the year before where the original gifter’s name is crossed out and mine is written over it. This year, I was impressed. I only wish I had been as impressed with what was inside.
Tim confessed to me that he had taken my gifts to a professional wrapping service instead of doing it himself. I wanted to pretend that I was surprised at this news, but I’m not that good of an actress. I must admit, as I unwrapped the first box I was duly impressed. No jagged edges, double-sided tape, and creases that looked like they were made with a steam iron. Then I pulled out my gift. I wasn’t sure at first what it was because it seemed to have no end. We don’t own a boat so I knew it wasn’t a new sail. I kept wondering how so much material could fit in such a regular sized box. It was like a clown car. When I finally got to the end, I saw that it was a high-necked, long sleeved, mid calf, navy blue dress. “Oh, it’s a dress,” I said. “A very big, blue dress.” Now, I don’t have a poker face. My face shows exactly what’s on my mind. There is no mystery to what I’m thinking. If you have an ugly baby, please don’t show her to me, it would surely end our friendship. Now, there was no way I could get excited about this garment. It looked like something a nun would be buried in. “You hate it,” Tim said. Here is where I differ from most other people. I can’t pretend to like a gift so as not to hurt someone’s feelings. I have to be honest. “Yes. Yes I hate it. Let me open the other box.”
Here’s where I should have quit while I was ahead. Once again, I pulled out another dress. This one was black and white and had a very bold pattern. And by bold, I mean ugly. “Another dress,” I said. This one came from a very exclusive store so my brain was already calculating how much money I would get when I returned it. “You hate it,” Tim repeated. In fact, I didn’t hate it. It wasn’t until I tried it on that I hated it. I kept looking at myself in the mirror and tried to pinpoint exactly what was wrong with it. Then it hit me; the dress had black side panels with white lines going down the middle of them, which made me look like a “Road Narrows” sign. On the positive side, if I kept the dress I could get a summer job standing in the street where there’s road construction. Poor Tim. The only gift I’m keeping is the one I picked out for myself.
The truth is, Tim is an excellent gift giver. Nine times out of ten he hits it out of the ballpark. He has great taste in jewelry and clothes and I seldom return things. It’s that tenth time where he just fails miserably. Like:
- When he sent me an Easter basket filled with all black jellybeans in a cardboard box that said, “Hazardous Materials.”
- When I returned to college and he bought me a briefcase. All I could think of was a kid I knew in elementary school who carried a briefcase. He was beaten up every day.
- For our anniversary he got me a cat clock with a tail that moved to count the seconds.
- For my birthday he bought me a green leather purse. In his defense, Tim is color-blind and he thought it was black.
- When I asked for a cashmere sweater he bought me one – in Pepto Bismol pink. To this day I refer to that sweater simply as “Peppy.” It was so bad that I returned it without even taking it out of the box.
I know that after my friends read this there will be a barrage of “Poor Tim” comments hurled at me over the phone, texts, Facebook and voicemail. Save it. It’s this kind of honesty that has kept us together all these years. Maybe I shouldn’t be as honest as I am, but if I weren’t I’d be walking around in an ugly blue dress carrying an even uglier green leather purse.