Last weekend Whitewater shopping centre was mobbed. I know because I was there.
It was the day that I had put aside to buy a gift for my long suffering husband. Last year he tried to hide his disappointment as he unwrapped my gift to him.
I had bought it in October and for months had hidden it in the cupboard under the stairs. It weighed a tonne and was awkward to wrap but I really was convinced that he would love it: a fire extinguisher.
It ticked all the right boxes as far as I was concerned. He has a pathological fear of the naked flame and a fire extinguisher was far more practical than a pair of slippers or soap on a rope.
I made up for his lack of enthusiasm when he saw it when I opened his gift to me. It was perfect. It was an electronic fire lighter, “I love it!” and I genuinely did love it because I am a bit of a pyromaniac. No more matchsticks for me, just a future of easy fire-starting.
We are not the only couple in the world who find gift giving at Christmas tricky. Last year a friend was told by her husband that he had found something that would, in his words, “Help” her.
She opened the box to find a pressure cooker. It is still in the box. Also still in the box is the foot spa, blender and avocado coloured electric can opener that other friends were given by their husbands.
“Last year he gave me twenty five bales of horse bedding” another friend shared. She gave him an abdominal exerciser in return. She meant well.
In the past I have gone down the comedy gift route. Highlights were the Mankini, the Homer Simpson slippers, soap on a rope and a mug with ‘Who’s The Daddy?’ written on the front. The obvious comedy gift this year would be a pair of ‘Meggings’ (leggings for men). Russell Brand and Harry Styles from One Direction have been modelling them recently. The difficulty is that he might think that it’s a serious gift and wear his Christmas leopardskin print ‘Meggings’ out of the house. There is always a possibility that someone else might be wearing them at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival this year, but I cannot take that risk. He might not get the joke, unlike me.
Oh, how I laughed out loud the year that he gave me a large encyclopaedia sized book with the title ‘1000 Uses For Bicarbonate Of Soda Around The Home’. Then I realised that he wasn’t laughing and that it was a serious gift. No matter what we do, we rarely get it right.
So there was pressure on to get something more ‘thoughtful’ this year. I headed for the biggest shop in Whitewater that I could find and the ‘Gifts for Men’ section. Teams of professional buyers spend their work life selecting these gifts so that women like me have an easier shopping experience at Christmas.
The first thing in front of me was a book: ‘Grow Something to Eat Every Day’. He would hate that even if grow-your-own is very fashionable at the moment.
Anything involving gardening would require a shed and ours is filled with outgrown rusty bicycles.
I walked past the remote control helicopters too, knowing that it would never leave the box because if it did, the dog would chew it up in minutes.
In front of me, a huge DVD section. A box set! Thank you Debenhams. What a great idea. The choices on offer included ‘Behind the Scenes with the SAS’ and ‘Steve Irwin’s Crocodile Hunter DVD’.
Then I saw it, next to ‘Ultimate Trucks Collection’ and ‘Ultimate Rugby Collection’: it was the ‘Ultimate Football Collection’ which included England’s 100 greatest goals and a ‘fascinating’ portrait of the legendary Maradona PLUS the 1966 final in colour.
My husband might not like fire extinguishers but he does love the ‘Beautiful Game’ more than anything in the world.
“That’s very romantic, isn’t it?” mocked a gay friend of mine.
He came up with a few suggestions that were much more thoughtful.
“What about some massage oils?” My husband did get me a set of cooking oils one year.
“Wear some gorgeous lingerie and let him unwrap you on Christmas morning!” I got us both a set of matching thermals in 2010 which we wore to bed every night during that bitterly cold winter.
Then, “Why don’t you bring him breakfast in bed with a red rose between your teeth wearing nothing but a pair of heels?” That would be too awkward. My Dad is staying with us this year and will require Weetabix, coffee and attention from 7.30am. I could not do that in nothing but tinsel and heels, I could scald myself.
But he wasn’t the only one thinking of spicing up Christmas.
“My husband’s going to love his gift this Christmas,” shared a neighbour a few days later.
This year she will be giving her man something that he really wants after 15 years of unappreciated Christmas gifts.
“It’s a Sexy Hamper!” So far she has put into it some racy underwear (for her), some exotic oils and a candle. “I am having a bit of difficulty finding the right book,” she added. She was looking for The Kama Sutra online but there are hundreds of different versions on Amazon, “Which one do you choose?”
I choked on my Jaffa cake. She was asking ME which version of the Kama Sutra to choose for her husband? The same woman who, up until now thought that an ‘Ultimate Collection’ DVD box set was the best present in the whole wide world for any husband.
There are a few days left till Christmas and nothing but my imagination stopping me making a sexy hamper for my husband too.
I may leave out the candle as it’s a fire hazard. He has no idea where the fire extinguisher is.
- Annie Morris HAPPY CHRISTMAS!