Presents Under the Tree
John Norberg, humor columnist s

Many years ago when we first got married my new wife told me what she really needed was a whole new set of pots and pans.

I wanted to be a good husband. So that Christmas I went out and bought for her the best collection of pots and pans I could afford. I wrapped them all separately in red and green Santa paper and gleefully placed them under the tree anticipating her joy at my great shopping. This was going to earn me some serious husband points for understanding her Christmas wish hint.

I had no sooner finished than she came into the room and looked at all packages under the tree. She didn’t' say a word.

But later that evening before she strangely started talking in the abstract.

Wife: "You know, just because a woman says she needs something doesn't mean she really wants it. Do you understand that?"

Me: "Of course." (I didn't have the slightest idea what she was talking about.)

Wife: "We're talking about Christmas gifts."

Me: "I know." (I still didn’t know what was going on, but figured my best move was to keep up my cover story.)

Wife: "For example, a woman might say that she needs toothpaste. But that doesn't mean her husband should run out and buy her toothpaste for Christmas. Are you with me?"

Me: "Yes." (I didn't know where this was going but I was glad I hadn't bought her toothpaste.)

Wife: "Or, just because a woman says she needs new socks doesn't mean she wants her husband to buy her socks for Christmas."

Me: "I didn't know you needed new socks."

Wife: "I'm talking hypothetically."

Me: "Good." (I had no idea what size socks she wore so how could I buy her any.)

Wife: "Maybe I should be more specific. If a woman marries a man and she's anticipating the first Christmas morning with her new husband, she might be less than overjoyed to open a set of pots and pans she might find in red and green Santa wrapping under the tree."

Me: "Oh?" (This was beginning to sound vaguely familiar.)

Wife: "A wife wants something for Christmas that tells her how her husband feels about her. A husband wouldn't want to tell his wife that when he looks into her eyes he thinks about pots and pans, would he?"

Me: "Of course not." (Actually it would depend on if it were dinnertime and how hungry he was. But I decided not to go there.)

That was the year I set what might be a Guinness Book of World Records entry when I returned my wife's Christmas gifts before she even opened them.

Me: "I'd like to return these Christmas gifts I bought for my wife."

Clerk: "You bought pots and pans for your wife for Christmas? You're lucky she isn't returning you!"

No way that was going to happen. My family gave me to her with a no return policy.

I don't remember what I gave my wife for Christmas that year. But ever since I've thought of it as the not-pots-and-pans Christmas.

I never know what to buy my wife for Christmas. I've tried asking her. But she usually says she wants me to do some difficult job around the house that needs to be done instead of buying her gifts. But those jobs are a lot of work. One year I had to clean the furnace room and put pegboard up on all the walls for hanging things. I stretched that gift out over two Christmases.

Me: "I want to buy you a gift to show how much you mean to me and how I feel about you. Why can't you just tell me what you want so I can go online in the next few minutes and buy it before Monday Night Football starts?"

Wife: "There's nothing I really need other than a new frying pan and I haven't been able to find the right one yet."

Me: "I'm not walking into that one again."

Wife: "Really, we've reached the point in life where we don't really have any needs. I hate to use the old clichés but what I really want is peace, friendships, family and a simple, quite Christmas without materialism and commercialism. I want health and happiness and love. What do you want for Christmas?"

Me: "Well, yeah. I want all of that health and happiness and love stuff, too."

Wife: "Good. It's settled then."

Me: "I'd also like a 2014 Corvette with chrome wheels, competition sport bucket seats, complete navigation and premium Boise audio."

Wife: "I thought we weren't putting aside materialism?"

Me: "I could live without the chrome wheels."

Wife: "I’m not buying you a Corvette for Christmas."

Me: "How about my birthday?"

Wife: "Or your birthday. You're past the age for a Corvette."

Me: "How about a Mercedes S550?"

I think my car ideas are not going to happen. But she said she was going to surprise me this Christmas with something I truly deserve.

I've already seen my gift-wrapped package under the tree and I'm looking forward to my big surprise Christmas morning. It's exciting to have a gift under the tree waiting to be opened and release all the Christmas joy.

But I have to tell you the package does look strangely about the size of a new frying pan.

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