Spouse Gift-Giving Is NOT A Contest (You REALLY Shouldn’t Have)

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I’ve been married to my wonderful husband for 14 years. He knows me better than I know myself, in most ways. However, for holiday gift-giving, it’s always hit or miss… and, that’s okay. I love him no matter what. I get just-because gifts throughout the year and I don’t hang on hopes of something extravagant for a holiday or anniversary (which falls mid-December) gift. I’m at the age that I have everything I could possibly need in life and my wants are out-of-reach: A cure for my husband’s epilepsy; winning the lottery and owning an animal rescue ranch; retiring early and never seeing another work day again; a personal assistant, so I never have to see the inside of a store… that kind of thing.


Spouse Gift-Giving Is NOT A Contest (You REALLY Shouldn’t Have)

I’m, honestly, a pretty content gal. So, for the holidays, I’d like to keep the bulk of our money in savings and not go all-out. We buy gifts throughout the year for our family and put them in a drawer, logged onto  a spreadsheet, so we can remember for whom we bought the gift (and sometimes, why!)! I’d never be able to keep up (time-wise or money-wise) with the last-minute “deals” or shoppers.

But, the “spouse gift” expectations seem to have a lot of pressure behind them. My husband’s a gamer. I usually just preorder the PS4 game he’s been dying for and get some stocking stuffers (Star Wars, Star Trek, or Ninja Turtles action figures, etc.). I really hurt myself, though, when I eBayed an original Ninja Turtles action figure from the 80s and had Peter Laird autograph it. I think my husband has been trying to “top” that one ever since then. It’s not a contest… it was just something I found online. To me, it didn’t compare at all to when he drove to my alma mater and had my favorite professor autograph his new book for me. To him, it became this yard stick by which to measure all future gifting endeavors.


Now, I feel like everything I say and every item I mention throughout the year is logged and analyzed for possible future gifting. I wistfully mentioned playing Metroid as a child on the original NES once and Santa brought me a Nintendo Game Cube with the new Metroid (in first-person perspective), which gave me more motion sickness than I even want to admit. I complimented a friend’s diamond studs and later received a pair of my own nearly-too-tiny-to-see, painfully expensive diamond earrings. I have an array of t-shirts with sarcastic quips that I’ve used at various times throughout the year that I rarely have occasion to wear, even if they were my style. I have learned to avoid mentioning any malfunctions of electronic equipment, as the man LOVES to shop for electronics and I don’t want or need an expensive cell phone, tablet, laptop, car system, or state-of-the-art cooking contraption.

Everyone deals with moments of awkwardness when receiving an unwanted or too-extravagant gift. Let’s just leave those for grandma (who always knits me wearable items that resemble open-weave potholders) and the in-laws (thanks for the new vacuum; I appreciate the cleaning tips).

The holidays shouldn’t be a time of stress or competition, but a time to enjoy being with family and friends. Please, for the spouse who loves me unconditionally and has no need to “win” Christmas–just small gifts this year–or let me foster the dog that you think would be too annoying to handle for a few weeks–but, please, know that it’s not a contest.

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