Keris Stainton‘s weekly column on married life…
I’m not one of those Christmas planning people. I try to pick up gifts I think people will like throughout the year since there’s little I dislike more than going out shopping *for* something, while having no idea what that something is (which is why I hate trying to buy clothes for a specific occasion), but generally by the time December rolls around I’ve at least got a vague idea of what I’m going to get for my nearest and, indeed, dearest.
Around about this time, I will usually ask David, “Any idea what we should get for your family?” and he will shrug. Or say, “Haven’t a clue?” or just shake his head woefully. Over the next couple of weeks, as my Christmas shopping (and accompanying mild panic) gains apace, I will often ring him with suggestions. “How about the Two Ronnies box set for your dad?” “We got him that last year.” Then I will pick up maybe one item. In the meantime, please note, that I am buying things for my side of the family.
I take a break from present buying to write cards. I write cards to my friends and family. I ask David if he’s written any cards to his friends and family. “Nah,” he says. “I’m not going to bother now, it’s too late.”
Now you might be wondering if I don’t consider his family to be my family and I do, I really do (except the dodgier members, obviously). The thing is, I’m trying to teach him that it shouldn’t be up to me. I know so many women who do all the planning and shopping for Christmas. I’ve heard tell of husbands having no idea what gifts have been bought for their own mothers until that very mother opens the gift on Christmas Day. Why? Why shouldn’t he be as involved as me? Plus he couldn’t care less about what I buy my sister, so why should I care what he buys his brother? I don’t. But if I didn’t at least take a vague interest, his brother would get nothing. How can I be so sure? Because it’s happened.
One year I decided I was tired of mothering a grown man and that I would neither enquire about his Christmas pressie plans nor get involved myself. I didn’t just leave him twisting in the wind, I told him that his side of the family was his responsibility. Not a card was sent, not a present, er, presented. And you know what? His family held me responsible. Yep. Apparently a man in his thirties who is capable of showering, dressing, driving, and holding down a responsible job (not to mention fathering a child), shouldn’t be expected to buy Christmas presents, oh no. It didn’t make him a bad man. It made me a Bad Wife.
So this year I tried enquiring. I chivvied. I even cajoled. And yesterday, the 19th, I gave up and bought Christmas presents for David’s family myself. And last night I wrote the cards.
Oh nuts, I forgot to get David anything… Ah well.