My family and friends know my more-obvious personality quirks pretty well.
For example, I have a hard time remembering birthdays. I’m not too good with names. And no one has accused me of being a hopeless romantic, either; in fact, just the other day, my wife pointed out that “you really don’t know much about women, do you?”
Of course, she didn’t make this comment in the form of a question, if you know what I mean.
But among my most enduring qualities is my lackadaisical attitude toward holiday shopping.
Along about October 1st, my wife begins to hyperventilate (and I mean this in the most romantic sense) about the need to complete our holiday shopping prior to Halloween.
“It’s only October!” I always harrumph, in my best, most-scripted tone.
The discussion continues throughout the month, but usually, not much happens until November 1, when my wife indicates it is now absolutely, unequivocally essential to complete our holiday shopping prior to Thanksgiving.
“I can’t enjoy the season if I have to run around up to the last minute buying presents for everyone,” she says.
I usually nod while reading the sports pages and quickly agree about the importance of getting into the holiday spirit two months before the holiday itself.
Finally, the biggest shopping day of the year rolls around, and then the countdown of shopping-days-before-the-last-day begins, and my wife continues fretting, and I continue wondering where the Rangers are going to find some pitching for next year.
Eventually, after many more terse discussions about how much money is appropriate to spend on my sisters’ families vs. my wife’s sisters’ families and why we can’t just buy presents for family members whose birthdays I can remember, the actual holiday arrives.
And usually, after all of the wrapping paper has been torn and the gifts happily passed about, we’re all pretty worn out.
And then, it’s only a few months before the holiday rat race begins anew.
I know the holidays will come and go this year, as surely as they always do, and next year I’ll still be forgetting birthdays and whining about spending a couple of bucks on a present for a distant cousin or nephew.
And despite all of the carping and foot-dragging, or perhaps because of all this, my place in my family is secure.
I’m fulfilling my holiday tradition as surely as my wife is fulfilling hers, and I just hope we don’t needle each other so much that we forget these are the things that build the fabric of a family.
Someday, our sons may follow in my footsteps, and the vote in our house will be three to one that we aren’t going to begin our holiday shopping until we can see the whites of Santa’s approaching eyes.
And my wife will be yelling, in her oh-so-gentle tone, that we’re single-handedly ruining the holiday season for her.
At least, I hope that’s the way things will keep going. For a long, long, long, long time.