It seems that everywhere I look (Facebook, Twitter, every.single.blog.) people are posting their Christmas gift guides. Some are pitching products from sponsors (totally fine, especially if done in a clever fashion), some are pitching a lifestyle they believe in (eco-friendly, organic, Paleo), some are listing their genuinely favorite gift ideas (I always enjoy seeing what people I like also like), but a whole bunch are also just angling for things they want to make them happy and for this to be The Best Christmas Ever from the Most Considerate/Wonderful/Loving Boyfriend/Husband/Life Partner/Lover Ever.
You know the ones. Those posts or pieces where the writer mentions stumbling across some fabulous item on Pinterest. Or where they bemoan the death of something (T.V., appliance, electronic) and then rhetorically wonder how they’ll get a replacement? Then mention it’s almost Christmas. And then tag their significant other. Because, OMG. Lets discuss, shall we? If you need to tag your significant other to get the Christmas gift you want you’re doing it wrong (#desperate).
I have a long list of things I love. Micro pavé rings in rose gold or with black diamonds for an edge. Druzy stone jewelry. Almost anything from a flea market. Gift cards for guilt-free shopping. Fifteen goddamn minutes of peace and quiet from the kids on Christmas day. They’d all be fun to get for Christmas. But you know what I’ve asked my boyfriend for? Nothing. Not a thing. This is for several reasons.
Firstly, I really don’t need anything from him. He tells me he loves me every day. He texts me “Good morning!” before he goes to work and we talk every night on the phone for hours. We chat throughout the day, work schedules permitting. We’re not 16, which is the age you’d expect that type of behavior to happen. And we’re almost a year into this relationship, and the thrill is not fading. At all. If anything it’s building. If that’s not a gift, especially after divorce and with two young kids, then I don’t know what is.
Secondly, my boyfriend has some significant gift giving anxiety. I think this has more to do with a few seriously ungrateful past girlfriends but he’s still convinced it may be him. So, is it worth it to me to cause him anxiety shopping for the ultimate whatever it is I want? Um, no. No, it’s not. I want a gift because someone wants to give it to me. Not because they feel they should, or a holiday dictates it (see also: Valentine’s Day, birthdays). Gift giving should not cause stress, especially when it’s for someone you love.
If I’m being totally honest though, sure, I’d love a little trinket from him. Nothing encrusted with gems, or reeking of long term commitment and a desperate need for resassurance. He’ll be away for Christmas visiting his family in the Midwest (by choice!) and I’m going to relaly miss him being near. I’d be just as happy with a $10 ring from a street vendor or a t-shirt of his to sleep in as I would with something sparkly to hold close while he’s far away. Because what I truly want is him and his love, and us and our love, and I already have that. And I’m confident in it. And because I also have learned that tokens of love and commitment are just that. They’re gestures. They’re not binding. They don’t prove anything, nor are they a guarantee (see also: ketubah, marriage license, legal documents, marriage).
I know that throughout Christmas day we’ll be texting and talking and sending photos to each other. I know he’ll likely be the first person I talk to that day and the last one I speak to before I go to bed. Unlike a wrapped gift, a good, healthy, confident relationship is the gift that keeps on giving. And it’s free. (Yes, I realize I’m losing my snarky edge. It’ll be back soon, I promise.). I don’t need some thing to make me happy. I’ve realized that the newest whatever won’t make happy for beyond the moment of unwrapping it, and that if I am not happy with myself and where I’m headed then no one can make me happy, either. And those bits of knowledge are my Christmas gift to you.