It always hits me around this time of year. I have done the lion’s share of the shopping. I have hunched over the card table wrapping everything. I have stocked up on everybody’s favorite snacks, made sure there are clean sheets on the extra beds, hung up the wreaths, stuck Santa figurines in every nook and cranny, and tried to get enough hostess gifts to get me through the season: If it weren’t for women, there would be no holidays.

Think about it: Christmas morning. All the gifts you wrapped have been opened. The brunch casserole you made the night before is now a bunch of crumbs. The coffee you made is gone. Everybody just wants to nap or watch TV. But you can’t, because now you have to jump up and stuff a turkey, peel potatoes, and set the table with the good dishes. Then you baste the rest of the day, serve up the feast, and then clean up. Everyone says it was a very nice holiday. And you have the backache to prove it.

I tried to change this once. I told my husband that he ought to be in charge of gifts. Here is how that went:

ME: It’s your turn this year. I am totally exhausted from all the shopping. So you can do it.

HIM: Fine. I don’t know why you are acting so dramatic. You can get everything you need at one store, anyway.

ME: Oh, yeah? Well since when do you even know your way around Nordstrom?

HIM: Not Nordstrom.

ME: Where, then? Macy’s? JC Penney? You hate those places!

HIM: Right. There isn’t anything good in department stores. You give such white bread gifts. Predictable. A sweater and a robe. Give me a break.

So I did. He did the shopping. And it was a memorable holiday, I give you that. He did the majority of his shopping at the hardware store and at the auto parts store. Here is what we ended up with:

A socket set for one daughter. A battery operated screwdriver for the other. “Girls need tools,” he said. I got some coffee filters and a lumbar pillow for my car. There were also boxes of windshield cleaning cloths all around, a nice new license plate frame for everybody, and some Windex to go with them. We got Santa night lights, and apparently there was a special at the hardware on coffee pots.

I was disturbed. Who wants a Mr. Coffee for Christmas? And I was offended, frankly, at the license plate frame. I got myself all worked up into a huff, and I was about to launch into a lecture, when the girls said, “Dad! This was the best Christmas, ever!”

Now I just buy everyone a sweater and hand him the checkbook. This year, I am teaching him how to make stuffing. 


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