Earlier last week I wrote about my episode of being set up as a personal shopper aide to a friend whose wife just wanted him to "put any semblance of thought" into the gift. I believe her exact words were "tell him no gift cards from Home Depot." Apparently my track record of not giving gift cards and providing thoughtful gifts to my wife has set a standard that other husbands may be measured against.
So, two days before Christmas upon prompting of my wife I place the following call to my friend: "Hey, it's LP. Have you got your Christmas shopping for your wife yet?"
Now for those husbands out there who I may, just may, make look a little bad I don't apologize. What can I say - to get the saucy wiggle I talked about in the other post I consider every husband for himself.
Translation: you gotta do what you gotta do. In my case that distills down to months of planning to provide the perfect gift that meshes seamlessly with the occasion of the day and hobby of the year.
"Nope. Was going to swing by Home Depot tonight though, wanna come? I need to pickup a gift card or two."
At this point it all became crystal clear - if he failed with this Christmas gift I was going to get blamed for this due to my directed involvement. It was like a world leader being blamed for failing to strike a peace accord between two feuding nations - once you get involved you're deemed to be the point of failure no matter how unrelated you are to the actual situation. I had no Camp David, just a Costco and an Old Navy...nothing McGuyver wouldn't have a fix for. It took some coaching but he finally saw the light of "happy wife, happy life" phrase and he finally advanced towards getting clothes at Old Navy instead of a Home Depot gift card.
"Great, then you're set" I responded. Off the hook, another marriage saved by LP, or so I thought. "Yeah...she's probably upset because it's her birthday too and I haven't got anything for that." he casually dropped into the end of the conversation.
"Woah...backup. Birthday? And you don't have anything?" Peace accord has been breached by a rogue birthday assassin and the marriage has again cast off the dock from the island of stability. Fortunately in my advanced state of wisdom I had only agreed to being infused into this situation after my wife called his and asked for a hit of a list to work from. Next stop, themed gift #2. "Remember the scrapbooking things at Costco we saw the other night? Well there is five different things you can pick from. Get at least two with some paper and you're safe for another 365 days of thinking thoughtful gift thoughts."
So the plan was set - he was to get a few of the scrapbooking gifts that he thought she would like the most. I thought nothing of it and thought I was in the clear until I got a frantic phone call later that evening.
"Hey, I'm in Costco in the aisle with all the scrapbooking stuff...but what the heck should I get?"
Obviously oblivious to what is needed to scrapbook I sighed. "Well, probably what she would need to do some pages up in her scrapbook for the kids. The cutouts are a good deal and she'll need paper, so get the slab of colored paper that was there. It is a good deal at that price for what you get."
"What about this other Crayola paper beside it? It's cheaper. Does she really need this whole ream of paper? And how can a few paper cutouts be $20?"
"It's called a slab, not a block." was my calm reply. I continued on "The Crayola paper - that's 8.5" x 11" for kids, you need the 12"x12" scrapbook paper. And how many cutouts for $20? They are about $5 a pop in the scrapbook store." By now you may be asking "how can LP know so much about scrapbooking?" Well, I admit I actually did one last month as a Wedding present for someone. This means I had recently done about 50 full on scrapbooking pages and was completely proficient on using vellum tags, multiple shaped paper trimmers, eyelets, embossing charms and specialty adhesives. I was the scrapbooking guru in my house, at least for a week before I turned the circle cutter back to my wife.
"Slab? 12" x 12"? Is there some international scrapbook standard? Why is it a slab when it's a ream of paper everywhere else? This is like a cult!" he stammered, obviously getting quite flustered by this newly found knowledge. "How can they charge $5 for a punched out piece of paper??? This must be a huge cash cow! Ohhh, wait, there is 12 in the box, that makes it cheap! We should get a few boxes, break them up and sell them on ebay!".
At this point I wondered if shopping for your wife yet doing business cases on the gifts was still considered being thoughtful about the gift. He was obviously getting excited about the business prospects of skimming scrapbooking supplies but I tried to keep him focused on the task at hand. "Ok, next item. There were some scrapbooks beside that which were nice, maybe get one of those to round out the themed package." I suggested.
"I see them. They look big, like 12" x 12" or something." Bingo, another man pulled into the cult of stamping terminology and scrapbooking lore. Slowly but surely it appeared as if this Christmas present was shaping up to be the thoughtful gift she was hoping for. Armed with this new knowledge I was content that he was well on his way to having the necessary life skills to ensure future gifting successes. "Another padawan ready to face the trials" was my final thought.
So was she happy at the end of Christmas day? Apparently quite so with the scrapbooking theme, however out of the 6 pairs of pants he bought at Old Navy none really fit. To be fair the one I bought for my wife didn't really fit either but at least the thought was there, which was the whole point.