Today Gabe is wearing a brown sweatshirt, khaki pants, and brown shoes.
“I know what I’m getting you for Christmas. And I don’t think you’re going to like it.’
And so begins another Christmas season with Gabe.
“Well,” I said. “If you don’t think I’ll like it, then why is it my present?”
“It’s not that you won’t like it. You just won’t like it at first…”. He paused. “But I think in time you’ll come to appreciate how much you needed it.”
“Is it something for my kitchen?”
“Is it a tool? Something for my car?”
“…It’s not, like, a free session with a therapist, is it?”
Luckily, he said no.
Gabe is a really amazing gift-giver, but unfortunately his streak of incredible gifts over the last 8 years has led him down a path of thinking every gift he gets me is going to be the one that finally misses the mark and will reveal him as the terrible gift-giver that he thinks he is. So every year, he undersells his gift.
And then every time, he does better than I ever could have expected.
For one birthday, he got me a copy of my favorite book at the time (after I loaned my original copy to a friend in college who then dropped out and moved to New York without giving it back), which had in the intervening years gone out of print. He hunted it down from a rare books guy on eBay and got me a copy!
Another year he got me a pillow for Christmas. A pillow! Which sounds weird, right? Only it was right after I moved to Humboldt and made the mistake of low-balling my pillow purchases. And he knows how much I like to have chill time in bed in the evenings, and how much my bad pillows were bumming me out. So he splurged on a big, soft, perfect faux-down pillow. It is heavenly.
The list goes on. A perfect pair of corduroy pants, a hookup for my iPod to listen to podcasts in the car, an old school film camera.
The guy gives great gifts. What can I say?
He has that magic ability to lock down tidbits of information throughout the year. Whereas I shop for gifts by standing in a store, trying to think of *who* this person is that I’m shopping for, and imagining what kinds of gifts would be most meaningful to them, Gabe operates off of pure data that he has surreptitiously collected over the last 12 months.
Although he can’t remember where he put his wallet down 15 minutes ago, he will hold onto the one time you wistfully said, “I really miss taking photos with a film camera” in passing during a conversation 2 years ago, and he will present you with the very same model of camera you as used during Photography 115 in college.
He will hear you bemoan the dearth of good jeans that fit you, and 6 months later he will walk into a Nordstrom (a place he’s never been before and will never be again), have an in-depth session with a sales lady (using phrases like, “Oh, she’s about your size but maybe shorter”), and he will hand you a box with pants that fit you so perfectly that you will wear them for years until they are so thin and worn that you have to, tearfully, admit that the one great love of your pants life is now behind you.
It’s inspired me to step up my gift-giving game, though I know at this point in our relationship, that I am doomed to forever come in second place.
So even though I know my gifts to him are PERFECT, and despite his ominous warning that my gifts are something I need but don’t want, something tells me it is going to be a pretty great Christmas and that I am going to come out ahead in the gift-receiving department again.
Even more exciting — we aren’t actually spending Christmas together (okay, so that’s not that exciting) but as a consolation, we are opening presents early. Hooray!
Christmas is coming, and I am really looking forward to it.