Tuesday 14 December 2010

Christmas gifts: when men are from mars and women are from planet to it all

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.


Kelly Innes said...

I so know that feeling, and I would sympathise buut I don't have time as I've got to wrap more Christams presents, collect dry cleaning, pack for four people for two weeks and bake until I can no longer stand ;-)

Anonymous said...

Sheesh, you need to have a drink and chill..:-) My mantra is 'I will let go' sometimes it works, sometimes not

nappy valley girl said...

I bet your husband really would mind if you had pasta and pesto on Christmas day.

I am lucky that the Doctor is the main chef of Christmas, so he has to care. In the past he hasn't been so involved in the presents, but this year I suggested he went and chose gifts for his own nephews and nieces. He came back with some really nice things - so it just shows that they can do it, if prompted!

Muddling Along said...

Brilliant post!

I know that feeling so well - every year I get overwhelmed with sorting out presents for everyone only for Mr to suddenly realise with a couple of days to go that Christmas is coming and for him to rush around trying to sort things out - its not as if Christmas has moved its date recently

My biggest irritation is Christmas cards - I have to write them because despite promising to help he has NEVER written a single one. And then I have to do all the thank you cards afterwards- grrrrrr

katyboo1 said...

This husband is an improvement on the last. The last was so unbothered that he used to get me to shop for my own presents too. Men do seem to be fundamentally uninterested in what to get others though. It starts from a young age. Oscar burst into tears yesterday when we were buying something for him to give to his sisters because I hadn't got him anything to give to himself and he didn't care what they got, but he did care what he got!

Home Office Mum said...

Domestic Goddesque - I too have to go pack for four people for two weeks. That's another pink job

Anonymous - believe me, my alcohol intake is fairly impressive

Nappy valley - My husband will go do what I ask him to do, but only at the last moment, which leaves me unable to cross that item off my to do list (maybe I'm just a control freak??)

Muddling Along Mummy - don't even get me started on the cards....

Katyboo - my husband is not such a fool as to send me out to get my own presents as he known he will have his bank account cleared out.

Gary said...

You need to relax. Christmas will happen, everyone will buy everyone else presents they don't really want, or need. You will have a Christmas dinner. As I tell my wife, just but people the first appropriate thing you see, there is no point in analysing everything, it just makes the buying process take a long time.

InvisibleWoman said...

Just stumbled across you via a comment left on 1950's mum blog. Love this - having just spent the day shopping and wrapping a ton of presents while Mr went to an office party at lunch time and is now in the pub! However, several years ago I introduced the concept of pizza for Christmas dinner (if no guests). No-one objected in the slightest as long as there was plenty of chocolate for dessert.