In a Dear Abby type column last year I read a letter written by a sad and frustrated woman. “My husband gives me horrible gifts” she wrote and pleaded for the answer in helping her husband give her the gifts that truly made the season magical.
1 year he bought her a vacuum and another year it was a Kitchen Aid mixer. Other horrible gifts from him included winter gloves and snow scraper for her car, a padded mat to stand on while working in the kitchen, and other such mundane and practical things.
As I’m reading I felt sorry for this woman. Somehow her husband’s gifts were denying her the joy and magic of Christmas. Each year she hoped for a romantic gift and each year her hopes were dashed.
I felt sorry for her, not because of her husband’s horrible gifts, but because she totally missed the true meaning of Christmas and the real reason behind gift giving.
By her own admission this woman did need the items she was given, but they weren’t the type of items she wanted him to buy her. Sadder yet was the “pat” reply she received that still focused totally on her selfish needs/desires rather than helping her see how romantic her husband actually was.
Every marriage is different, every man is different and every woman is also different. Yet I see it so often, Christmas rolls around and fb discussions are centered around what the worst gift you ever received was, how to tell your man what you really want for Christmas, and the best gifts to give according to consumer reports.
The world is telling us that some gifts are “bad”, that men don’t know how to give you what you really want, that you have to give the best gifts (according to this or that list) or you’re the bad giver, and on it goes.
We celebrate Christmas as a time to celebrate the gift of a savior. A pure and perfect gift destined to save us from ourselves and purify us that we may stand in the presence of God.
We give gifts remembering the perfect gift.
The world doesn’t know or understand this perfect gift, but as followers of Christ, we should. We should also understand that Christmas is about giving, not receiving. A time to selflessly give and graciously receive even unwelcome gifts.
As for the woman who said “My husband gives me horrible gifts”, I do hope she wakes up someday and realizes those gifts are amazing. He knew how hard she worked and wanted to make that easier on her. He saw a need and filled it.
When it comes to horrible gifts, I think many times they aren’t horrible so much as just not what we wanted. And for the times when it’s clear the giver put no time or thought into a gift that may even be regifted; let’s simply respond in the spirit of the one we gift in honor of.
I want to put a little personal story in here relating to the time when I thought my husband gives me horrible gifts. 🙂
Rather, I thought he would won’t give me anything at all. I start shopping around black Friday (or sooner many years) and am typically done at least a week before Christmas. He, I have learned shops the night before.
The first few years together I would stress over his lack of shopping, I would hand him detailed lists, I would ask him if I even mattered to him. He would look at me in such a confused manner and finally go out shopping for me.
I didn’t enjoy those first years so much. Not to mention that he had very odd tastes and didn’t always totally impress me with his purchases. No, I didn’t enjoy our first Christmases together very much.
One year I just decided to let it go. If he bought me something, fine. If he didn’t well, I was done stressing over it, I enjoyed finding and buying the perfect gift for him so that’s just how it was going to be.
There was a little pride and a few tears involved in that decision, but the year I decided to focus totally on the giving and not the receiving is the year I learned something about my man.
The night before we were having our Christmas celebration, Jason came home from work and asked if the next day was our Christmas. I calmly responded yes, and he said he thought so and went right back out the door.
An hour later he came back home in great spirits and was attempting to sneak shopping bags back to the room where we always wrap them. He was in a great mood!
What did I learn?
My nagging and high expectations weren’t just ruining my Christmases, they were stealing his joy as well.
He actually liked shopping for me, and with none of my high expectations to meet, he found great gifts for me. Items that I really needed and hadn’t ever bothered to buy.
If you feel like the lady who wrote My husband gives me horrible gifts, let me encourage you to make this year about the giving and not the receiving. Have no expectations about what you will receive from your husband; you may be surprised and you may not be, but you will still have joy.
We give in honor of the greatest gift of all. We don’t need to receive anything to have joy!