Last night I saw an advert for Boots on telly. It featured a woman showing her husband what she'd bought for various people for Christmas. While she showed off the gifts, the man stood there doing the requisite nodding but the look on his face said it all: complete and utter disinterest bordering on depression at how dull and no doubt expensive the whole gift buying business was. It was so very much like the look on my husband's face that I laughed out loud.
Every year I make a list of what presents we need to buy for whom, including his godchildren and family. I then try to get his opinion on my suggestions. It's safe to say he could give a monkey's bum. Occasionally he'll disagree with my suggestions but won't offer an alternative. He also finds these conversations very taxing, causing him to sigh often as though he cannot understand the need for so much discussion so far in advance.
So I head off and shop. Bit by bit the gifts arrive from internet purchases or in a heavy cluster of bags after a day on the high street. Until at last everything is bought.
I then tackle the wrapping of them. I tend to do this early as we have family strewn across the world and to hit the international posting dates, I have to be organised. Wrapping evenings go like this:
I sit down surrounded by bags of gifts and reams of gift wrap. I then pull out various gifts and show them to my husband, saying things like: "I got this for your mum. Do you think she'll like it?" He'll look up from playing Angry Birds on his iPad and look either a) bored b) annoyed (that his game is being disturbed) or c) bemused as to why this is even happening.
Eventually all the gifts will be wrapped. All the cards will be written. All of the things that need to be posted are posted.
On Christmas Eve, my husband will ask me where the wrapping paper is, and he'll wrap my presents that he's bought that day. And that will be his contribution to the gift giving process.
Having read several books on raising boys, I've come to realise that males only do what needs to be done at the very last minute because - their rationale goes - that they could get hit by an alien spaceship on the way to work tomorrow, rendering anything done in advance a complete and utter waste of time. So I assume they apply this same logic to the Christmas gift buying process.
And I get it. Men have bigger, more important things to think about than whether Aunty Majorie will like a floral teapot (like who beat who in the Premiership or working out how many curries they've eaten in 2010).
But here's my issue: I don't expect men to do the shopping, wrapping or posting. I don't even expect them to think about what people might like or who we need to buy for. I know that gifts are a pink job, the same way cleaning the fish tank is a blue job. But I do think that at least pretending to be interested in our purchases would buy men a whole lot more brownie points. And brownie points equal sex, or at least a slightly greater chance of ever getting lucky. Why haven't they worked this out yet?
The exact same process happens when planning the Christmas meal. For years I've tried to include my husband in the discussion about whether to have turkey or ham, Christmas pudding or trifle. I've realised that he just doesn't care. At. All. In fact, if he woke up on Christmas morning and there was no food to eat, he'd boil up some pasta, put on some pesto and he'd be good with that. It's us that care. Us women folk!!.
Why do we care? Why is it that women are the upholders of tradition? What would happen if we all just stopped? Would Christmas happen at all? I'm almost willing to give it a try next year just to see what happens. But then I imagine my children waking up on Christmas morning wondering where the tree was, where the presents were and why they weren't having anything other than pasta with pesto for lunch and I know that I'll be doing it all again next year.
Did someone say it is the season to be jolly? I must have missed the memo.