The Smith family is precariously close to dispensing with all Christmas giving pretense and getting our own gifts. This year, we spent an inordinate amount of time sending photos to each other. We did this to make sure we gave exactly what the other person wanted.
Which shirt color do you like?
Take a closer picture. Is that sky blue or aqua?
Even then, the first words out of the giver’s mouth Christmas morning:
I kept the receipt, if you’re not happy with the shirt. The one you approved as your gift. The one I showed you before I wrapped it last night.
What happened to the days when we opened a pack of tighty whities? Sure we were disappointed. But we still said thank you to Aunt Mollie, as well as to the Bangladeshi ten-year-old who made them.
Enough with the charades. Next year, we Smiths will buy our own gifts, wrap them, put them under the tree. We’ll fake surprise when they open them.
That will save a lot of time and disappointment.
This year, I still tried for an element of surprise. Wife #1 had been talking about replacing the comforter on our bed. I don’t know why we needed to replace the current comforter. The bed is always covered with countless pillows that obscure it. I often wonder how much of my life has been spent taking off those useless pillows at night and returning them to the bed the next morning. Still, I am an attentive husband. Therefore, I suggested Daughter #1 give her mother a new comforter. (My wife and I don’t officially exchange presents, though I seem to get a lot of gifts from the dog.)
Instead of making it a surprise, however, D1 asked W1 all sorts of questions: Color preference? Design? Piping? Duvet? Shams? I thought we were just getting a bed cover.
During this questioning, W1 told D1 she would like to have a white comforter, but she worried that I would get it dirty.
What? I work indoors. I shower semi-regularly. The only time I sit on the comforter is when I put on my socks and shoes. I did not realize I was a walking dirt ball. But our dog? That’s another story.
You can read more about the mutt here, but my wife adores that dog. The feeling is mutual. The rest of us are only bit players in their love affair. Therefore, no surprise, the dog sleeps on the bed. Here’s the problem: The dog is not young. The dog is mildly incontinent. Once or twice a week, I will find tiny round balls of dried poop on the comforter. I assume these “gifts” come from the dog, because I don’t want to imagine the alternatives. So why isn’t W1 worried about the dog getting the comforter dirty?
I’m asking myself this question as D1 and I stand in the linen section of a department store two days before Christmas. Time is wasting.
“Get the white comforter,” I say.
Christmas day: W1 loves the comforter. D1 launders it, along with its myriad accessories. She puts them on our bed that evening. She is a good daughter.
W1 and the dog sleep in the bed. I am allowed to sleep there, too. (I am but a guest in my bedroom.)
This morning, I discover a tiny ball of poop on the comforter. The dog has christened the bed. I don’t tell my wife, because what good would it do? She would look at me suspiciously, as though I were making it up to get the dog in trouble. Meanwhile, the dog would look at me with mild contempt.
But I know the truth, and so does Santa. That is why the dog received a lump of coal in her stocking Christmas morning. The jolly old elf and I know who has been naughty. It’s a an eight-pound ball of black fur.