Nobody’s perfect, which means every married person has flaws. But what you hope for as a married couple is that your shortcomings will be complemented by one of your partner’s strengths and vis versa, so that you can balance each other out and be stronger as a whole than you are separately.
Sometimes that happens. Sometimes, you end up with the gift giving misadventures of the HitchDieds.
Collin is notoriously terrible at receiving gifts: he shuts down and squares off into an awkward automoton attempting to reproduce the human gestures associated with gratitude. I blame his extremely enthusiastic mother and sister, for whom every present is an opportunity to squeak, cheer, hyperbolate, wave victory arms, and hug. Growing up with a twin sister who acted like the war had just ended every time she got a piece on Chanukah gelt would give anyone a complex, right?
The best example I can give of Collin’s horrific gift-receiving habits is from our second Christmas together. I bought him a big fluffy robe, the warmest I could find, because we keep our house very cold. He had acted jealous of my big fluffy robe (which was also a Christmas gift, thanks Ab!). It was something that he needed, wanted, and it’s a classic gift. How could this go wrong?
Well, Collin opened up his gift and once he figured out what it was (probably because I said, “It’s a robe!”) he turned to me and said, “Oh. I can see why you would buy this for me.”
“But?” I asked. I was sure that he had just bought himself a robe or that this was made out of a fiber he was allergic to or something.
“But nothing. Thanks cuun. It’s nice.”
“Then what’s with the subjunctive tense!?”
“The subjunctawhaa? You know I hate words.”
“Well I hate giving you presents.”
And there’s our real problem. I have never been a great gift-giver. I’ve never had that ability to zero in on that perfectly thoughtful thing, that fun-yet-useful gadget that you didn’t know you always needed, that sentimental and delightful reminder of a shared memory. S0 instead of giving Collin mediocre presents that he will receive with awkward non-enthusiasm, I’ve taken to giving him a list of things I could give him, with him getting to choose.
The problem is? He never chooses. So now Collin teases me that I get him an “IOU” for every holiday.
I would be perfectly happy to become one of those couples that don’t buy each other presents, especially with our forthcoming move to South Africa requiring a bit of a stuff purge. But Collin just won’t stop getting me awesome presents, making me feel even more inadequate. As much as Collin is terrible at getting presents, he’s great at giving them.
He’s pretty terrible at keeping his presents a secret, though. And I love surprises. Sigh. But if we have to be incompatible in some way, I guess it is fine that it is regarding gifts, because at least we’ll be distracted by the special occasions.
How do you and your partner fit on the gift giving/receiving enthusiasm scale, and how do you make your differences work?